BY JUMOKE OWOOLA
The need to make investors comfortable and settle most cases out of court were some of the reasons Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, launched an international commercial dispute resolution centre called, Lagos Chamber of Commerce International Arbitration Centre (LACIAC).
At a colourful launch in Ikoyi, Lagos, the well attended event was preceeded by a lectuire on the need for such a move.
Delivering the key lecture, Mr. Babatunde Fagbohunlu who is the Chairman, LACIAC, Board of Governors opined that the LACIAC operates on the fundamental philosophy that arbitration and ADR mechanisms are components of an overall strategy aimed at effective disputes management.
“We have been doing this for a while, but now introducing a new philosophy by deploying structures, the laws, and institutions. The message the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) is trying to send out here is that we must begin to look into the laws and institutions, the legal framework itself. We must as a continent settle commercial dispute within the continent.
"There is a need for a regional cooperation that necessary must involve institutional, constitutional and legal reform, This initiative will facilitate training support to corporate in-house lawyers, risk managers and outside counsel to develop capacity in disputes avoidance and disputes management.
Going futher, Fagbohunlu showed his displeasure at the way the World Bank has consistently published in their report in the past decade to rank African countries low in its ease of doing business report, saying the low ratings was due to lack of certainty with which contracts can be enforced.
“If investors are not comfortable about the certainty with which contracts can be enforced in your country, then it is a disincentive because investors take cognizance of the ease of enforcing contract before investing in any economy,” he concluded.
Mrs. Nike Akande, who is the current LCCI President,said that LACIAC is a very dependable platform for the settlement of commercial disputes in Nigeria and beyond, saying that this move would attract more investors into the country due to its speedy process of dispute settlement.
“Investors are more comfortable with Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) than the conventional court processes, LACIAC will play a significant role in the promotion of Nigeria as an arbitration hub on the African continent, and this is with the adequate support
“I call on all all members of the LCCI, and indeed the entire business community to incorporate the LACIAC arbitration clauses in their contracts,
Akande who was a former Minister of Industry also opined that LACIAC is hinged on its ability to develop a reputation as a world class arbitration centre, maintaining that the establishment of the international dispute resolution centre will attract many international arbitration cases to Lagos.
“ The primary mandate of the chamber is the promotion of interests of the business community in the country, saying that the chamber recognizes the adverse and often disruptive impact of disputes on projects and transactions while pointing out the need for an efficient system to resolve commercial and regulatory disputes.
“This is the Lagos Chamber of Commerce Arbitration Committee that is being launched today, because this launch is well over due because we have seen many cases taken to court and not decided in real time. This is why we have initiated this dispute resolution centre to shorten the period of dispute settlement,” she declared
Guests were later treated to a cocktail party by the pool side of the venue.