April 14, 2020

COVID-19: ClArb, Nigeria releases guidelines for remote dispute resolution


 By Ebunoluwa Sessou

The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, ClArb, has released guidelines for remote dispute resolution proceedings in view of the lockdown in some states and indeed some countries across the globe.

The institute is a statement signed by Mr Olatunde Busari, SAN, C. Arb Chairman Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Nigeria branch noted that the COVID-19 global pandemic has severely affected personal and professional lives of people worldwide necessitating the imposition of strict, constraining measures on their natural and legal persons, which has resulted in often injurious repercussions to business relationships.

Also read: Economy growth: Okereke-Onyiuke advises involvement of stockbrokers in policy formulation, investment drive

According to him, “It is the duty of all cooperate with WHO advisory/guidelines, the various Federal and State government directives while the world seeks to find a solution to the pandemic, the body stated that resolving disputes by alternative dispute resolution procedures should not be hindered as parties can resolve to work remotely notwithstanding the circumstances in the majority of cases.

“It averred that businesses should not be burdened by unresolved disputes due to the inability of parties to meet physically to conduct proceedings aimed at resolving their disputes.

“The body then assured that the guidelines which it just released are to reassure disputing parties that they can still use remote procedures for full resolution of their disputes while maintaining the gold standard that the Institute is reputed for worldwide.

“CIArb offers this Guidance Note on Remote Dispute Resolution Proceedings to provide parties to existing and future disputes, as well as neutrals, a guide for conducting proceedings in any circumstance where parties to the dispute are unable to meet physically. This Guidance Note is intended to be broadly applicable to the current 2020 global health crisis and well beyond. This Guidance Note is intended to be taken into consideration to help participants in arranging remote procedures. The Guidance Note relies on related existing practices and scholarly writings produced before and after the 2020 pandemic and is in no way a definitive work.

“The Guidance Note is intended for use in conjunction with and adjusted to any governmental and arbitral Institutions’ advice with reference to any dealings during the COVID-19 pandemic or other circumstance that prevents physical meetings and any laws applicable, including public policy provisions of the possible place(s) of enforcement.”

“As the covid-19 rages on, the body stated that most dispute resolution providers will seek to employ audio and video conferencing for dispute resolution.

It however added that when such is used, Cybersecurity requirements would have been considered, agreed by parties and a record made. Technical support for all participants to the remote proceeding would have been arranged and a platform and procedure for transfer and storage of documentation has been agreed by parties and arranged,”he said