I was honoured to interview Professor Paul Idornigie on Expert Views on ADR (EVA) show. He is a Professor of Commercial Law at Veritas University, Abuja, Nigeria; he is also a Chartered Secretary and Chartered Arbitrator (UK), a Notary Public for Nigeria and an Author. Professor Paul is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). SAN is a title that may be conferred on legal practitioners in Nigeria of not less than ten (10) years of standing and who have distinguished themselves in the legal profession. It is the equivalent of the rank of Queen’s Counsel in the United Kingdom.
Prof was also a Senior Lecturer at the Nigerian Law School Abuja, was involved in the setting up of the Abuja and Asaba Multidoor Courthouses, a former member of the National Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association and was former Chairman Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, (UK), Abuja Chapter. In this episode, we analysed the following questions:
1) How far has ADR enhanced access to Justice in Nigeria?
2) What is the role of the National Industrial Court (NIC)?
3) Is there any measurable difference or impact on the Cost and Time Frame for settling disputes under ADR Compared to litigation?
4) Are employees or workers aware of ADR options regarding disputes or conflicts that might arise at the workplace?
5) To what extent employees are encouraged to use ADR to settle discrimination, bullying and harassment in the workplace-Nigeria is the given context?
6) Why is ADR more prevalent or popular in the more complex societies (in this context UK) than in the less complex societies (Nigeria)?
7) What is the way forward for mass advocacy or awareness of the benefits of utilising ADR in settling disputes or conflicts in the workplace?
8) Can Conflicts or disputes at the workplace be prevented or avoided?
9) What type of mediation is best suited for workplace conflict?
10) What are the benefits of using Mediation to settle workplace conflicts?
11) What are the disadvantages of using Mediation to settle workplace conflicts?
12) Is there any difference between Mediation and Conciliation?
13) What is your advice for people pursuing a career in ADR?
* Veritas University:
*Prof’s Profile: https://paulidornigie.org/profile-of-prof-paul-idornigie-san-phd-c-arb/
Professor Paul Idornigie pointed out that ADR means several things to several people because of its jurisprudential and conceptionally challenges. First, what does the word ADR stand for?
Second, if the A stands for Alternative, the next question is, alternative to what? Third, does the acronym include arbitration? Lastly, what are the conducts of ADR? Professor Paul Idornigie pointed out that the core of ADR is mediation. It is a non-binding process; for instance, the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NIC) has the ADR rules, and they defined ADR to include Mediation and Conciliation, but for some purposes, Arbitration is included when ADR is seen as an alternative to litigation.
HOW FAR HAS ADR ENHANCED ACCESS TO JUSTICE IN NIGERIA?
The application of ADR processes and mechanisms has advanced the effectiveness of the administration of Justice in Nigeria. The colliery has been that there is now greater access to justice; this is demonstrable by the establishment of Multi-Door Courthouse Association in several cities of Nigeria, providing several doors they have doors of Arbitration, Mediation, Conciliation, Early Neutral Evaluation and Med-Arb etc.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE NATIONAL INDUSTRY COURT (NIC)?
In Nigeria, they have the High Court Civil Procedural Rules, which provide for ADR. They have rules of professional conduct in the legal profession 2007. These rules recognise ADR to be used by Lawyers before resorting to litigation, and they now have the National Industrial Court of Nigeria(NIC). The primary purpose of the NIC is to take care of trade disputes between employers and employees, workers and workers, Trade unions and workers and Trade unions and Trade unions. There was a third alteration to the constitution in 2010. That constitution vets exclusive jurisdiction on Industrial matters on National Industrial Court, and the constitution also mandated the National Industrial Court to establish ADR Centers.
NIC mandates include labour employment, trade unions, industrial relations, and matters arising from the workplace, including health, safety, welfare, employee, worker and matters incidental hitherto. We also have a new bill, a National Assembly now called Arbitration and Mediation bill. When this bill passed into law, Mediation was formalised in Nigeria. ADR has come to stay in Nigeria, and the scope is being widened every day.
IS THERE ANY MEASURABLE DIFFERENCE OR IMPACT ON THE COST AND TIME FRAME FOR SETTLING DISPUTES UNDER ADR COMPARED TO LITIGATION?
There is a remarkable difference in costs and time frame for settling disputes via ADR compared to litigation. ADR is generally cheaper apart from Arbitration. It is essential to point out that there is controversy as to whether Arbitration is part of ADR because if it is included as part of the process, then ADR is expensive, but the core ADR processes, like mediation, are cheaper than Arbitration.
ARE EMPLOYEES OR WORKERS AWARE OF ADR OPTIONS REGARDING DISPUTES OR CONFLICTS THAT MIGHT ARISE AT THE WORKPLACE IN NIGERIA?
They are because of the third alteration to the Constitution of 2010. The issue of ADR is not only constitutionally but also statutory. To reiterate, we now have an ADR sector at the National Industrial Court(NIC). Secondly, The Trade Disputes Act of 1976 and the NIC act of 2006 expressly provide for ADR in the Industrial and Labour sectors. However, there needs to be statistics to demonstrate the awareness of ADR options regarding disputes or conflicts that might arise. Still, it is essential to say that most organisations, when drafting contracts, prefer clauses on Mediation over Arbitration.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR PEOPLE PURSUING A CAREER IN ADR?
People pursuing a career in ADR should be open-minded or have a broad perspective towards resolving disputes. To reiterate, as a lawyer litigation should be your last choice it should not be your first choice so lawyers should have a tool kit -know when to send matters to either Litigation, Mediation, arbitration, or Early Neutral Evaluation; also a lawyer should be able to establish a nexus between a dispute and a process. For instance, post-election matters are to go to court; if it is a purely commercial dispute -it should go to Arbitration. If it is a matrimonial cause, it should go to the courts; they should know which tool to deploy at any particular time.
ADR is recommendable in the holy books- the Bible and the Quran provide. For example, in the Bible Genesis Chapter 18, verses 23 -33, the city of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham was a mediator, and the Beatitudes which is in Matthew Chapter 5:9- Blessed is he who is a peacemaker and Matthew Chapter 18;15-17 deals with ADR -If your brother hurts you go and point out his fault… and the Quran too stated that where two (2) are fighting they should be encouraged to reconcile and settle. ADR has the backing of the holy books.
Click here to listen to the full version of Episode 28 of Expert Views on ADR (EVA) podcast.