The Chairman of the International Law Association, Arbitration Committee, Mr. Tolu Aderemi, has charged international arbitrators to develop sector-focused expertise. Aderemi made this charge in London on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 during the public presentation of the book, The Palgrave Handbook of Arbitration in the African Energy and Mining Sectors, co- edited by the Professor Damilola Olawuyi, SAN and Dr Victoria Nalule, at the Parliament Chamber, Middle Temple Hall, United Kingdom.
Aderemi, who also authored a chapter in the Handbook on the Recognition and Enforcement of Energy Arbitration Awards, decried the spate of challenges to energy arbitral Awards. According to him, the somewhat lack of understanding or the appreciation of the technicalities of energy disputes are often reflected in the quality of submissions made by Counsel in their pleadings and the arbitral Award rendered by the Tribunal.
Aderemi, who is also a Partner with the firm of Perchstone & Graeys LP, stressed that basic knowledge of practice and procedure of Arbitration has become obviously insufficient to sit over energy-related disputes. He therefore encouraged energy arbitration practitioners to seek technical support either from local sector players or foreign counterparts; particularly at a time when the world is transitioning to a low carbon era in line with the net-zero carbon emission commitment by year 2050.
On his part, the co- editor of the Handbook, Professor Damilola Olawuyi, SAN, noted that the publication of the Handbook has become imperative in view of increasing use of ADR as an alternative mechanism for dispute resolution across the Continent. He emphasized that it is a Handbook which will be periodically reviewed to standardize its content.
On his part, the Chairman of the occasion, Kenyan High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Ambassador Manoah Esipisu lauded the initiative and emphasized the need for capacity building, particularly in areas of renewable energy and water law. The Ambassador stated that the aggressive development of the Kenyan energy market and also chronicled the increasing strides of the Kenyan government to develop the Kenyan energy market.
The Managing Partner of the Host firm, McNair International, Prof Qureshi, KC, welcomed the publication of the Handbook as one of their products and hopes that its rich content will become useful for cross- border deals.
International arbitration has become one of the veritable tools for resolving high- valued commercial disputes and has been adjudged to be one of the most efficient mechanisms for dispute resolution in the energy sector. According to it’s Users, arbitration is effective, efficient and fosters Continuous business relationships between parties. In recent times, Lawyers with minimal training in arbitration may have indirectly imported the traditional practice of technicalities which occasion delays in the Court into arbitration.
This has seen arbitration references spanning periods between 6-48months before conclusion. Users have condemned this trend as it makes the use of Arbitration less fashionable and attractive for the very purpose for which it was conceptualized- quick and effective dispute resolution mechanism. Nigeria has been in the forefront of advocating the use of Arbitration for resolving commercial disputes thereby strengthening its laws and Rules.
Presently, the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, Laws of Federation, 2004 is currently being amended and awaiting Nigeria’s outgoing President Muhammad Buhari, to accent it before the lapse of his tenure.