OMORUYI OSAGIE EDOIGIAWERIE
@uyilaw is the Founder and Lead Partner of the Firm. He also leads the Corporate Commercial, Tech and specialised team at the Firm. He specializes and has in-depth experience in Startup Law, Corporate Commercial Legal Practice, Statutory Compliance and Entrepreneurship and other corporate commercial practice areas.
He also has expert knowledge of Matrimonial Causes and Entertainment Law and expertly provides legal advisory and capacity building support to a broad spectrum of clients locally and internationally. Omoruyi has advised on several landmark and strategic transactions both locally and internationally. So far, he has helped build and grow over 1000 companies most of who remain gainfully in business and still rely on him for expert legal advice.
He is a member of the Nigeria Bar Association and the American Bar Association. In addition, he is a Startup Mentor at the Tony Elumelu Foundation. In the Nigerian Bar Association, he was appointed a member of Mentoring Committee of the Nigeria Bar Association, Secretary of the Steering Committee of the Young Members Group of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK) Nigerian Branch and member of the policy and drafting team at the Nigerian Startup Act Project. Omoruyi is a Harvard trained Leadership Expert, Yale Certified Business Negotiator and Business Compliance Specialist. He also holds a specialization in Legal Entrepreneurship from the University of Maryland, USA and a compliance and data protection certification from the University of Pensylvania. A prolific writer, Omoruyi is the author of the best-selling masterpiece for entrepreneurs, The Business Of Running Your Business To Building A Successful Business; A Practical Guide the book is a product of his in-depth experience in Corporate and Commercial Legal Practice, Statutory Compliance Matters, and Entrepreneurship Development.
He is also recognized as one of the leading Entrepreneurship and Startup lawyers in Nigeria. Omoruyi regularly contributes to nation building through regular speaking engagements across the Country on contemporary issues that relate to law, and nation building.
Senator Ihenyen is the Lead Partner at Infusion Lawyers where he heads the FinTech, Blockchain & Virtual Assets Practice of the law firm. He has advised both local and global companies, including FinTech companies on various areas of law, policy, and regulations, which includes FinTech, blockchain, data protection & privacy, and related areas of information technology.
A tech lawyer with interest in policy and regulations, Senator is former President of Stakeholders in Blockchain Technology Association of Nigeria (SiBAN) where he is now a member of the Advisory Council. He served as Vice Chairman, Policy & Regulations. Senator is also the current General Secretary of the Blockchain Industry Coordinating Committee of Nigeria (BICCoN), the coordinating body in Nigeria’s emerging blockchain industry. He is also the current General Secretary of the FinTech Alliance Coordinating Team (FACT), comprising the Fintech Association of Nigeria (FinTechNGR), Blockchain Nigeria User Group (BNUG), Cryptography Development Initiative of Nigeria (CDIN), Innovation Support Network Hubs (ISN Hubs), and Financial Services Innovators (FSI).
Senator is the exclusive contributor (Nigeria chapter) to the International Guide to Blockchain 2020 and Lead Trainer, Blockchain for Lawyers 101. A contributor (Nigeria Chapter) to the International Comparative Legal Guide to Data Protection 2019, Senator also advises on data protection and privacy. He has been the author of the Data Protection Overview for Nigeria on DataGuidance by OneTrust since 2016.
Senator has been a resource person and speaker on FinTech, blockchain, and innovation at various fora, including the Committee of Chief Information Security Officers of Nigerian Financial Institutions (CCISONFI) Conference, May 2021; Blockchain Nigeria User Group Conference, May 2018; Blockchain & Cryptocurrency Forensics for the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC), September 2021; Blockchain & Fintech 101, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Asaba Branch Law Week, December 2021; Legal Business Conference on ‘Regulating Blockchain, FinTech, and Innovations’, 17 May 2022; TechPoint Africa Blockchain Summit (TABS), 20 May 2022; and ‘Evolving Relationship between FinTech, Regulators, and Financial Institutions’, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), June 2022.
Senator is currently the 1st Vice Chairman, Intellectual Property Committee and member of the Information Technology Committee of the Nigeria Bar Association Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL).
Chinyere is a Partner in Firm of Jackson, Etti & Edu, Lagos–Nigeria and has over 32 year’s practical legal experience in Intellectual Property law, where she is internationally recognised as an expert. She also advises varied government agencies on IP related issues, particularly Law reform. Chinyere is also a medico-legal practitioner and heads the firms Health & Pharmaceutical Practice group, offering tailor made solutions to clients sector specific needs.
She is highly respected by peers and clients alike, with some notable industry appointments & professional recognitions, which include appointment as current Chairperson, Nigerian Bar Association(NBA) Women Forum, Past Council Member & Treasurer-NBA, Section on Business Law (SBL), Inaugural Chairperson, IP Committee NBA-SBL, Patron of the Law Society, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos; Member – Dispute Resolution Panel, Nigerian Copyright Commission. Chinyere was nominated as one of 20 most influential women in Business Law in Nigeria in 2020/21, by Business Day Newspaper, was nominated as one of Managing Intellectual Property’s (MIP’s) Top 250 Women in IP, worldwide 2021/22, and one of the 50 most influential women in the Legal Profession in Nigeria (Business Day Newspaper, April 2011). She is Ranked in Chambers Global, as a Leading Individual in IP in Nigeria, as well as is recognised as an expert in Who Is Who Legal Nigeria, to mention a few.
Chinyere has acquired first hand experience about the challenges associated with building a successful career, as a female professional, attaining a work life balance and embracing the necessary diverse role changes along the way. With a passion for assisting young people reach their full potential in the work place, she founded the Heels & Ladders Career Mentorship Club, where she provides inspiring & motivational guidance and tips for career success for female professionals seeking career growth.
She is on the Advisory Board of a number of NGOs and speaks regularly at workshops, seminars and conferences (locally and internationally) on varied topics of interest.
Fee: 70,000 Naira
Early Bird: 60,000 Naira (ends 10th January, 2023)
Venue: NECA House, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos
Reg Link: https://bit.ly/3haXvfy
Virtual Session (ZOOM)
Early Bird: 40,000 (ends 10th January, 2023)
Registration Link: https://bit.ly/3fIJvcq
Olumide Babalola Esq is a prolific and consummate digital rights, consumer rights, privacy and data protection lawyer. His rich and diverse digital rights litigation experience spans across all superior courts of records in Nigeria and regional courts in Africa including ECOWAS Community Court of Justice.
He has specifically litigated on Digital Privacy, Cybercrime, Hate Speech, Freedom of Information, Online Freedom of Expression, passage of laws protecting digital rights among others. Olumide is a seasoned Conference speaker at local and international fora. In 2018, he was selected alongside 6 other digital rights lawyers from West Africa to attend the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Paris a multi-stakeholder engagement forum and in June 2019, he spoke at the RightsCon (The 8th Annual Summit on Human Rights in the Digital Age) held in Tunis.
Olumide has four published books to his credit: the first is a historical piece on the office of the attorney general of the federation and its occupants in Nigeria; the second being a casebook on Labour and employment law – which work was propelled by the volume of legal opinions (on Nigerian Labour regime especially the decisions of the courts on the peculiar issues) he had to write for his multi-national company on regular basis while the third is another casebook on corporate law and practice. His latest publication – Babalola’s Law Dictionary, is reputed as Nigeria’s first law dictionary (strictly so called).
Olumide is the managing partner of Olumide Babalola, LP – his flagship full service law office with particular bias for digital rights, consumer rights litigation, class actions, employment and corporate commercial litigation et al. As a testament to the cutting-edge practice of his law firm, the law firm was in 2016 presented with the prestigious award of “Quality Summit Award” in the city of New York.
The awardee of the “Nigerian Rising Star Award” is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association, Secretary of NBA Lagos Human Rights Committee, British Nigeria Law Forum, Internet Society, Internet Governance Forum Support Association (IGFSA), Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, World Litigation Forum, International Bar Association and International Association of Privacy Practitioners.
To register, please follow any of the appropriate links;
• Physical Session:
Fee: 70,000 Naira
Early Bird: 60,000 Naira (ends 15th January, 2023)
Venue: NECA House, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos
Reg Link: https://bit.ly/3godtD2
Virtual Session (ZOOM)
Early Bird: 40,000 (ends 15th January, 2023)
Registration Link: https://bit.ly/3gqAXr9
Meet The Faculty At The Introduction To Tech Law Training
Chukwudi “Chudi” Ofili @chudyofili is a licensed attorney in the State of New York and in Nigeria. He is primarily involved in active project pipeline management and deal closing as Renew Capital scales up across the region.
Prior to joining Renew Capital, he was a partner at a commercial law firm in Nigeria and advised high-growth companies and startups on the full spectrum of their legal issues, as well as the private equity and venture capital companies that finance them. He has also advised on international finance and project development deals within Africa.
Chudi has been named a Rising Star Partner and National Leader in Nigeria by the legal directories International Financial Law Review (IFLR) and Who’s Who Legal. His international experience includes stints as a visiting lawyer at Trinity International LLP in London, United Kingdom and as an extern at the Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.
He holds a bachelor of laws from Babcock University in Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State, Nigeria and a master of laws with a concentration in business and finance from the University of Georgia School of Law in Athens, Georgia, United States. He also has a fintech certificate from the INSEAD Business School in Fontainebleau, France.
Looking to advance their skills in Tech Law? Join Chudi and other Members of Faculty at the career training for lawyers on Tech Law.
To register see information below;
Physical Session: 70,000 Naira
Early Bird: 60,000 Naira
Reg Link: bit.ly/3godtD2
Virtual Session: 50,000
Early Bird: 40,000
Reg Link: bit.ly/3gqAXr9
#lawlexis #careertrainingforlawyers #techlaw #nigerianbarassociation
The year 2022 has come and gone, and yes it was an exciting year with its own fair share of highs and lows. One beautiful thing about the new year is the hope and excitement it comes with. As a lawyer, I am sure you have lots of plans for your career in the year 2023, and here are a few tips to help you achieve your goals only if you practice them.
- Write More
Writing and publishing articles or short legal tips for public consumption has helped a lot of lawyers attract clients. Writing articles establishes you as an authority and thought leader in your area of practice, thereby earning you the trust and confidence of your clients.On the Legalnaija Blawg, we publish law articles free and if you will like us to share your articles with our community, you can simply share them via email along with a short bio and portrait to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Use the internet
The internet is an invaluable resource for individuals and businesses. Potential clients use the internet as one of their first points of call when searching for legal information, and it is important that they find you in their search. Some of the many ways you can take advantage of the internet include using social media to share content, and host community discussions; signing up to a Lawyers Directory, and building a brand.
- Attend professional trainings
Professional trainings are an incredible way to improve your skills as a lawyer. It not only updates you with current trends in your area of practice but also provides an opportunity to engage with experts in your area of practice, engagements which can easily lead to mentorships. An example of a good professional training program is the Introduction To Tech Law training for lawyers scheduled to hold in January, 2023.
Career Training For Lawyers
- Perfect your skill
Professional development is mandatory for lawyers, and improving your skills makes you more valuable to your firm, and clients. Reading books in your area of practice and building a good law library is a very important to becoming a successful lawyer. A good place to get law books at affordable prices is the Lawyers online bookstore.
- Collaborate More
Collaboration is the new competition, and if you want to go far in 2023, you should be thinking about collaborating with communities within and outside the legal profession. It could be your school association, religious group, social clubs or NGOs, but which ever you choose, you certainly cannot go wrong.
If you find the tips and tools in this article useful, don’t hesitate to share them with your friends and colleagues by using the share button.
Monday, the 13th of June, 2022 saw the National Information Technology Development Agency release a preview copy of the Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries. According to them, the Draft was created in conjunction with the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation and the Nigerian Communications Commission. With this draft, they intend to give the general Nigerian populace an opportunity to review and contribute despite the copious absence of a channel for feedback until the 17th of July.
In a recently booming tech ecosystem like Nigeria’s, one which has driven serial international investors and created multiple employment thereby dousing the unemployment inferno to a very large extent, an average citizen is left wondering what the agenda behind this policy could be. This work of the draftsman that could determine their employment status and infringe on their indivisible, inalienable rights simultaneously.
As expected, several knowledgeable and experienced policy experts have publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with this guiding policy document with most pointing out now visibly infamous paragraphs and sections contained therein. This work can be said to be motivated by a huddle call with other colleagues who equally advise these companies and the Nigerian populace who keep themselves happy with content posted on these platforms. Both very worried at the far-reaching legal implications of this draft Code of Practice.
Whilst this article will examine the advantageous parts of this draft, it will not only make a case for the infractions but expose an aspect which goes to the deep root of this intended policy document.
Whither Revenge Porn and Nudity?
Under Part II(2), all Platforms are mandated to inform their users through terms of service not to share content harmful to a child; encourages money laundering, exploiting a child, infringes the subsisting intellectual property of another or promotes terrorism. This seems fair enough in light of the misuse of social media by others who though exercising their fundamental human rights, overreach into the rights of others.
This seems to draw a thick line between where an individual rights stop and where another’s begin. It indeed, is a welcome development.
Platforms were mandated under part IV to delete within 24 hours prohibited materials objectionable on grounds of morality and public interest. This leads us to the age old jurisprudential debate of the line between morality and the law. The Nigerian state as it stands today follows codified law and under no condition shall a person suffer for not written. Nulla poema (crimen) sine lege, the Latin legal maxim which guides the law shows the spirit and nature of the law. In light of the fact that human beings are diverse and the world is dynamic, it is expected that the question of what is moral will be relative.
Are the Platforms expected to gauge what is moral or immoral on behalf of lawmakers and law interpreters?
Can a Platform be held responsible for a crime not known to law?
What exactly is objectionable on grounds of immorality?
In an interview, the Agency’s Legal Services and Board Matters Unit had contended that the inclusion of ‘morality’ is to ensure that whatever goes out is in line with Nigerian local laws. This is rather obscure in nature and evasive.
It is believed that the draft Code of Practice will do better.
Is National Security Greater than Fundamental Human Rights?
The movement for Fundamental Human Rights need no introduction as enough has been said and is continuously being said in order to ensure that the inalienable, indivisible rights of every human being is not taken away from them under any pretext. The Nigerian Constitution, in line with international best practices have adopted fundamental human rights for its citizens and this is seen in Sections 33 through 42 under Chapter IV of the laws of the land.
In Section 37, the Constitution expressly states that the privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations, telegraphic communications is protected. Sections 38 through 40 then reiterate that every person shall be entitled to their fundamental rights to freedom of thoughts, conscience and religion; freedom of expression and freedom of association.
All four rights and freedoms are very fundamental to Nigerian Citizens’ usage of these Platforms. There are cases where in exercise of their rights, they also advocate for the continuous protection of those rights. .
In October 2020, Twitter was agog with the EndSars protest which was an advocacy for the protection of the fundamental right to life of every citizen who are prone to police brutality merely by breathing the air in Nigeria. This movement marked a reawakening of conscience and a realization that leaders had to do better. It also put them under a spyglass of scrutiny which they have not been able to avoid till date.
Section 45(1)(a) and (b) however states that where a law reasonably justifiable in a democratic society is enacted in the interest of defense or the public; or for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedoms of other persons, Sections 37 through to Section 41 shall not invalidate such law.
Omnibus Terms: Who is Who? and What is What?
In some paragraphs of this draft Code of Practice, the use of ambiguous words is observed to the extent that upon first instance, one is left wondering whether it is deliberate or a mere oversight on the part of the Draftsman.
The word ‘Child’ in the Definition part is said to be subject to definition by Nigerian Law however it i submitted that Nigerian Law as of today is at variance expressly and by inference as it relates to who a child is. Though the Child Rights Act had been enacted in 2003 by the Federal arm, states like Kano have done a total overhaul with the inputs of Ulamas Islamic Scholars and Society Organizations in order to fit into the Sharia Law acceptable to their state which strictly speaking, they can do in a federal system of government.
The Corporate and Allied Matters Act of 2020 by inference defines a child as any person under 18 by virtue of Section 106. This is also the position of Section 29(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). The Definition part should have stated expressly what Nigerian Law will define the age of majority even as some may argue that the Constitution remains the grundnomm, it looks like an area prone to judicial intervention when litigation arises.
Still on ambiguity, Part IV places the liability of removal of ‘prohibited materials’ from Platforms within 24 hours of notice from the government on these Interactive Computer Service Platforms.
The definition of ‘prohibited materials’ is then heavily placed on all applicable Nigerian Laws including but not limited to the eleven stated in the draft namely:
- Nigerian Communications Act;
- National Broadcasting Commission Act;
- Nigeria Broadcasting Code;
- Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) 2015;
- Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006;
- Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019;
- Advertising Practitioners Act 2004;
- Sales Promotions of Nigerian Code of Advertising Practice Sales Promotion and other Right/Restrictions on practice Act 2004.
- Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act 2022 10. NCC Consumer Code of Practice Regulations 2017
- Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) 2018.
The effect of which is not only a repetition of these laws but a ticking bomb as a misnomer or misinterpretation of any of these laws may lead to content deletion or even prosecution as it stands. This could also mean that any of these laws may be reviewed from time to time in order to accommodate more ‘prohibited materials’ which is a danger to the constitutionally exhibited right to freedom of speech and right to freedom of thoughts, conscience and religion of every citizen of the country as it were.
What netizens should be thankful for, however, is that it is a draft and it is subject to review. So we are told.
Exercise of Regulatory Powers over Platforms: A threat to Corporate Governance
The nature of these Interactive Computer Service Platforms is quite unique and rather unlike an average company regulated by a regulatory agency or legal frameworks peculiar to its objects. Unlike a construction company or a renewable energy company, these platforms do not stricto sensu, need the license or express permission of any agency in Nigeria to operate as sanctions cannot be used against them effectively. This shall be explained in the next paragraph.
In an instance where a Fintech company is a payment platform, they require a Payment Service Platform license from the Securities and Exchange Commission in order to operate, the default of which will see the Commission see to the closure of such company’s registered address until the needful is done subject to the intervention of the Investment and Securities Tribunal or even the Federal High Court as the case may be.
This shows a degree of control and demonstrable sanctions in a regulatory relationship of suzerainty. This is not the case with Interactive Computer Service Platforms because they do not have bank accounts in the country upon which a lien can be placed or access restricted as in the earlier instance, some do not even have offices in continent while a vast majority of them, if not all, are not incorporated in the country. The nature of Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok, Instagram etcetera is very unique because they are free-to-air.
The draft under part II mandates these multinational Platforms operating globally to carry our risk assessment of every content to determine whether such content is harmful. The practicability of this on a large service platform is quite interesting.
As it stands, even the veil of these companies cannot be lifted in Nigeria to uncover fraud or illegal purposes because they have not made themselves subject to Nigerian Corporate Law and they may choose not to without bearing any sanctions, an example of which is the now infamous Twitter ban which even though was ongoing, Netizens found their way back to enjoy the microblogging platform.
The Corporate and Allied Matters Act of 2020 remains the foremost regulatory framework for the administration of companies in Nigeria as of today alongside Codes of Corporate Governance. This law recognizes and respect that directors, members, persons with significant control should control and administer the company going by the guidelines of regulatory bodies peculiar to their field. It is submitted that regulatory bodies are not supposed to meddle with the day-to-day administration of the company or the object of the company as it goes against corporate governance to have a regulatory agency butt in from time to time on the basis of an ambiguous Code of Practice.
It seems to me that despite claims of the National Information Technology Development Agency that it sought the input of these Platforms, the latter should have, through their policy experts been more involved in the drafting process in order to create an all-inclusive, mutually beneficial and widely accepted policy especially with little degree of control the Agency at present realistically has over them.
An Academic Adventure: The Case for a Punitive Code of Practice
Part VI of this draft Code of Practice explains that non compliance with the Code will be deemed a breach of the National Information Technology Development Agency Act of 2007.
The combined understanding of Section 17 and Section 18 of the Act is to the effect that any person or corporate body who acts at variance with the act commits an offence punishable by fine and imprisonment which does not preclude the payment of levy to the Federal Internal Revenue Service. Asides from the fact that the Act itself does not state where the matter will be heard in the case of a company in default in compliance with the fundamental right to fair hearing entrenched in Section 36 of the Constitution, the nature of Codes generally is that of guidance. Its force in law, I humbly submit, is that which is persuasive in nature.
Click To Order
Codes are not meant to be protocols to an Act of the National Assembly neither are they meant to be punitive by resting on an already existing Act to derive its force of law. That is the difference between an Act and a Code.
In the instance of the Corporate and Allied Matters Act, the Banks and other Financial institutions Act, the Investments and Securities Act and the Central Bank of Nigeria Act ; all acts that regulate Public Companies, you find that such Codes released by by some of the agencies created by these acts are not in nature.
The Code of Corporate Governance for Public Companies released by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1.3 for instance, states that it is not meant to be a rigid set of rules but to facilitate sound corporate practices.
The Code of Corporate Governance for Banks and Discount Houses in the preamble circular signed by the then Director of Financial Policy and Regulations Department states that it aims to align the Nigerian ecosystem with international best practices.
It seems as though the National Information Technology Development Agency knows that it cannot frontload the provisions of the proposed National Information Technology Development Agency Bill of 2022 through the Code of Practice. Even if that would happen, the new Act should lay the foundation for the new Code and not the other way around. It raises a serious question of law.
Under the 2007 act, the Agency does not have that much power however the fresh bill increase their functions to 24 from 14 thereby overlapping and arrogating other regulatory agencies operating within the same space such as the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria, Galaxy Backbone, Office of the National Security Adviser, National Universities Commission and so on.
Sections 6, 13, 20, 21 and 22 of the Bill will enable the Agency fix classes of licenses, impose administrative sanctions and enter premises in order to detain persons or companies that contravene the Act.
The classes of lines are: Product License, Service Provider License and Platform Provider License. With the analysis of the proposed Bill, one can easily see that the Code of Practice is intended to announce the appearance as forerunner in anticipation of a more heavily worded and bullish Act.
It is therefore a stellar innovation by the Agency to release a draft Code punitive in nature, ambiguous in wording and that which criminalizes acts not known to law.
Mosopefoluwa Fayeun is a corporate/commercial lawyer and management consultant with Albert and Abraham LLP where she regularly advises with regards strategy and corporate governance.
As of August 2022, 107 Nigerian startups have raised funding accounting for around one-third of the continent’s funded startups so far this year. The report noted that the country’s running total for 2022 stands at $747.9 million closing in on the annual record total from last year, put at $793.8 million. – Premium Times. Technology law is the body of law that governs the use of technology and Lawlexis has put together a stellar faculty to help train and develop the capacity of Nigerian lawyers in Tech Law. Details of the training include:
Theme: Introduction To Tech Law
– Fintech Law
– Data Privacy and Protection Law
– Blockchain Technology
– Intellectual Property Law
– Startup Funding
– Startup Compliance
Date : 26th & 27th January, 2023
Time: 9am – 5pm daily
Members of Faculty:
– Chinyere Okorocha, Partner,Jackson, Etti & Edu
– Olumide Babalola, Esq., MCIArb (UK), Managing Partner, Olumide Babalola LP
– Senator Ihenyen, Lead Partner, Infusion Lawyers
– Omoruyi Edoigiawerie, Partner, Edoigiawerie and Company LP
– Chukwudi Ofili, Director of Investment Management & East Africa Regional Counsel Renew Capital
– Davidson Oturu, Partner, AELEX
Fee: 70,000 Naira
Early Bird: 60,000 Naira (ends 10th January, 2023)
Venue: NECA House, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos
Reg Link: https://bit.ly/3godtD2
Early Bird: 40,000 (ends 10th January, 2023)
Registration Link: https://bit.ly/3gqAXr9
Please note that participants will be issued CLE (Continuous Learning Education) points, for their participation by the NBA Institute of Continuous Learning Education, as well as Certificates of Participation. Persons who should attend include lawyers at all levels. For enquiries, please contact: Lawlexis – email@example.com or 09029755663
Get 10% Off When Using The Voucher Code: LEGAL9JA
Companies in the tech industry are often presented with mundane problems: that of what do we do with pending and imminent litigation? How to derive positive result from one? Whether protracted litigation or litigation generally may be prevented or preemptively resolved? How value assessment of concluded litigation may be used to identify potential areas of opportunity to mitigate risk?
This paper offers answers to these questions and attempts to raise the reader’s consciousness toward the importance of these issues.
Common Areas Where Disputes Arise
Labor and Employment: keeping valued employees and disengaging unsuitable employees usually cause as much difficulty as recruiting. Moreso all of these processes have avoidable landmines beginning as early as recruitment. Firstly, let’s bear in mind that although employment traditionally takes two forms, namely: contract of service and contract for service, both having distinct legal and operational implications. For tech companies, in the spirit of innovation and corporate values-driven eye for efficiency at affordable cost, introductions like work-for-equity employment arrangement are being adopted and there is no gainsaying that this helps micro startups through their early periods to fruition. However, this employment arrangement presents risks far above what traditional employments do.
Structuring and Investment: the tendencies for disputes can begin right from the incubation of and sharing an idea, through forming a company, creating a product and successfully attracting investment. Some of these disputes arise between founders; founders and prospective investors; founders and investors; founders and regulators. The subject of such disputes includes unauthorized disclosure or use of confidential information; shareholding and control; product; non-compliance with extant laws and relevant regulations.
Intellectual Property and Confidentiality: in an industry such as tech that uses peculiarly volatile but highly valuable and sensitive products, the risk of intellectual property breach is not only high but potentially more damaging. This poses one of the major threats to the industry and of course a major area where disputes often arise.
Contracts: contracts in tech, like other commercial contracts often require interpretation, and enforcement where there is breach of some or all obligations, it is therefore an area where concrete litigation preventive or remedial (against reactive) measures should be deployed timeously.
Payment Services, Loans and Recovery: from experience, this area of fintech seems to be the most volatile target for internet fraud or phishing which usually turns out to be untraceable and when traceable through onward transfer or payment destinations, the mechanisms required to secure recovery are too expensive or uneconomical. Equally, loan and debt recovery are other areas where dispute arises more often than it does in payment service.
Data: through regulatory compliance, management members in tech companies have become familiar with data protection laws, their obligations and the importance of adherence. Nevertheless, this area still remains a crucial area where disputes often arise between the company and customers or third parties and between the company and regulators.
Other areas include: actions of the board of directors and documentation; methods of marketing and distribution; real estate planning; insurance, health care and pension coverage; securities law compliance; product liability etc.
While there is precautionary cover by offered by lawyers during structuring, contracts stages as well as regulatory compliance, the cover usually falls short in forestalling all threats of litigation. In fact, I daresay that there are disputes that arise regardless of how perfectly a company is structured or its contracts negotiated, drafted and reviewed, some disputes also appear to be unforeseeable or inevitable.
While some of these problems or disputes may be prevented through what we have devised as dispute resolution risks-based legal audit, others require specialized remedial measures to achieve values-based results through effective dispute resolution mechanisms, many of which are already available but largely untapped.
What is legal audit? Generally, a legal audit focuses on a single aspect of a company’s business and analyzes the legal position. A legal audit ensures that no hidden risks exist within a company. The problems a legal audit identify are those that put the company at risk for penalties and litigation. While a legal audit performs an in-depth analysis of one area of a company, it is not so intrusive as to interfere with a company’s day-to-day operations.
In the form of legal audit that this paper proposes, instead of focusing on one specific area for a company’s operation, it will focus on all or high-risk aspects with the objectives of assessing impending litigation risk, the degree of possible exposure and outlining action steps to forestall litigation and/or claims.
To conclude, let’s consider an example in the area of labor, this legal audit will focus on the need to ensure cover for predictable areas of disputes from regularization of recruitment documentation; developing and adherence to company policies; developing and periodically updating disciplinary and termination policies in line with extant laws and contract; proactive action steps to settle with employees who may raise valid claims for unlawful termination, dismissal or other causes.
Here, this paper presents to the reader the idea of effectively reducing protraction in courtroom litigation through effective case-flow and case management, effective judgment enforcement and adoption of innovative trends.
With respect to debt and loan recovery, innovative trends like the establishment of the small claims court brought about by the Lagos State Judiciary which, now serves as model for other states provides a giant leap in our judicial process as well as viable mechanism through which fintech companies may recover loans and debt within the 60 days prescribed by the practice direction for small claims court. A small claims court is created with jurisdiction to entertain simple and liquidated debt recovery claims not exceeding N5, 000,000.00 and counter claim not exceeding N10, 000,000.00. It is time and cost saving because there is quick and efficient resolution of disputes within 60 days of filing. There is also limited adjournment which results in fast-track proceedings. In practice, courts have an average consolidated time to disposition of 66 days per case.
Upon completion of litigation, it is important to encourage and accept proposition from lawyers to carry out value assessment of concluded litigation which may be used to identify potential areas of opportunity to mitigate risk and set action steps that can provide cover for your company from exposure and depleting viability.
Suitable alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms: this is another viable solution to mitigating lengthy and protracted court procedures. The methods of ADR include Negotiation; Mediation; Conciliation; Arbitration.
Some courts have created ADR Centers to ease out of court settlements and promote the adoption of alternative judicial mechanisms. These courts include: National Industrial Court–ADR Center; Lagos State High Court – Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) and The Federal High Court.
Finally, it is imperative and in line with the objectives of this paper to highlight the effects of ADR obligations created by contract, the extent of this obligation and the need to only insert ADR clauses that best suit the type of contracts because one size does not in fact fit all. From experience, parties to contracts have hit stumbling blocks as a result of the mandatory arbitration clause in their contract for example. This is because although Arbitration is highly effective in commercial disputes and in disputes generally, unlike other methods of ADR it is not cost-effective, therefore it is not suitable for contracts where for example, the parties are startup companies or founders, or contracts whose subject involve low monetary value.
What is the effect of an ADR clause in a contract?
When a contract has an ADR clause, generally, when a dispute arises it places an obligation on the parties to such contract to firstly explore the method of ADR specified in the contract in the order that the contract prescribes, before proceeding to court if a resolution is not reached.
What happens when one party decides not to participate in order to frustrate the other party?
The law provides that it is enough if the aggrieved party notifies the defaulting party of his intention to explore ADR, where the defaulting fails to take any step, the aggrieved party may proceed by submitting such dispute to the court without falling in breach of the ADR clause.
The questions examined in this paper which typify the challenges being faced by tech companies and the proposals offered underscore the importance of embracing a proactive approach to prevent avoidable litigation and adopt effective and values-based dispute resolution processes where litigation is unavoidable or beneficial.
 A Contract of Service is an agreement between an employer and an employee
 Contract For Service is a contract where instead of an employer-employee relationship, there is a client-contractor type of relationship
 Working for equity means a company compensates employees with shares in a company
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