By Babajide Komolafe
Stakeholders in the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) industry have opposed the establishment of a commission to regulate ADR practices in the country.
Recently, the House of Representatives passed a Bill titled, ‘National Alternative Dispute Regulatory Commission Bill, 2011. The Bill which has also passed the second reading at the Senate, seeks to establish National Alternative Dispute Resolution Regulatory Commission (NADRRC).
The functions of the commission, according to the Bill is to: regulate, through the process of accreditation, all Alternative Dispute bodies and institutions engaged in practice training, education or skills acquisition in alternative dispute resolution mechanism; advise the federal and state governments on the use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms; develop an alternative dispute resolution policy for Nigeria; maintain a register of Alternative Dispute Resolution bodies and Institutions in Nigeria; set and maintain standards in the training curriculum of the Alternative Dispute Resolution bodies in Nigeria; undertake public enlightenment programmes on the benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution as effective means of settlement of disputes; develop and maintain relations with international Alternative Dispute Resolution bodies and organisations with a view to attaining best international standards and practices in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution; organisee local and international seminars, workshops and conferences for users and practitioners; develop and constantly review, rules and regulations for the practice of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Nigeria; carry out such other activities as the Commission may consider necessary to raise awareness and maintain standards in the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Nigeria.”
Stakeholders, however, criticised the Bill, saying that ADR by its nature does not require regulation. They said that the Bill, if passed into law, will impinge on the right of private individuals to choose alternative dispute resolution method. They also noted that the Bill is against international best practices, as nowhere in the world, except for pariah states, is ADR regulated by government.
The stakeholders meeting was convened by the leadership of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Section on Business Law (SBL) Arbitration and ADR Committee led by Olasupo Shasore, SAN and Mrs Funmi Roberts
Briefing journalists on the outcome of the stakeholders meeting, Sasore said that before the Bill was passed by the House of Representatives, stakeholders had expressed their opposition to it, but they were ignored. He said it would take more concerted efforts on the part of stakeholders to stop the passage of the Bill by the Senate, and that is the basis for the stakeholders meeting.
He said there are three categories of objection to the Bill, which were adopted by participants at the meeting, namely, Constitutional, Budgetary and International best practice. He noted that ADR is not in the exclusive list of the constitution; hence the National Assembly lacks the power to legislate on ADR.