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Arbitration in Nigeria — Domestic or International?

Andrew W. A. Berkeley, International Energy and Minerals Arbitration (2002)

Nigeria was the first country in Africa to adopt the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration by the enactment of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, Chapter 19 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.1 The head note describes Chapter 19 as:

An Act to provide a unified legal frame work for the fair and efficient settlement of commercial disputes by arbitration and conciliation; and to make applicable the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Arbitral Awards (New York Convention) to any award made in Nigeria or in any contracting State arising out of international commercial arbitration.

Two points are to be noted initially. First, the Act deals with commercial disputes.2 Second, the Act is comprehensive, in that it applies to purely domestic arbitrations as well as to international arbitrations. The first point is not likely to lead to frequent difficulties. Trade, investment, construction, commercial and financial sevices and other fields in which arbitration is commonly used to settle disputes will fall within the Act. The only significant reservation is that expressed in Section 353 which carves out areas in which disputes are not arbitrable or which are, by law, subject to special arbitration regimes.