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Specialized maritime Arbitration center in West Africa underway

By Godwin Oritse
A specialised Maritime Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution(ADR) Center is to be established for the West and Central African Sub-Region.

This  was contained in the Communiqué issued at the end of the two-day International Conference on Promoting Maritime Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution in the West and Central African sub-region which took place in Lagos.

Participants at the conference, organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, in conjunction with the Maritime Arbitrators Association of Nigeria, MAAN, also resolved that Universities and in particular,  Faculty of Laws in the Sub-Region should include training on Arbitration and ADR in their curriculum.

The 12 point Communiqué also contained proposals for industry practitioners to insert appropriate Arbitration/ADR clauses in their commercial agreements as a first option for resolution of maritime disputes.

In his welcome address, The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Mr. Temisan Omatseye restated the Agency’s resolve to create an enabling environment for Arbitration and ADR, as first options in dispute resolution in the maritime industry.

He described Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution(ADR) as dispute resolution mechanism that are not intended to replace court adjudication processes, but rather, compliment it.

The DG noted that more maritime disputes are now being referred to Arbitration and this comes with opportunities for Arbitration practitioners adding that Nigerians have what it takes to maximise its benefits for the entire region.

In his words “now is the time for the West and Central African Sub-Regions to take the bull by the horn. Nigeria controls more than 60 per cent of the maritime trade in the West and Central African region.

“ It behoves on us to lead the way to institutionalise Arbitration and ADR as first line of dispute resolution in the maritime sector.”

In his keynote address, the Chairman, Advisory Council of MAAN Admiral Okhai Mike Akhigbe, described Arbitration and Alternative Dispute resolution as the preferred and traditional means of resolving maritime disputes.
While noting that the trend these days is for maritime related disputes to be settled either by arbitration or other alternative means in that jurisprudence.
“Nations who have realised the impact of effective and expeditious means of resolving disputes in their maritime sectors are essentially those who are regarded as the major maritime nations today. The time has come for our region to promote Arbitration and ADR as preferred means of resolving maritime disputes” he said.

He commended the Management of NIMASA and MAAN for taking the lead in organizsng the conference which he described as recognition of the need for Inter Regional Cooperation to establish the region as a Hub for providing alternative means of expeditors and effective dispute resolution.

The Attorney General of Lagos State, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Supo Sasoore noted that the State Government recently passed a law to establish a Lagos court of arbitration as  part of measures to ensure that Lagos emerges as a hub for arbitration activities, adding that the NIMASA/MAAN initiative will go a long way to enhance the process.


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