Mediation has recently emerged as a crucial legal mechanism for addressing employment disputes in Nigeria. This alternative to traditional litigation is known for its efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and collaborative nature. The rise of mediation in Nigeria, especially in the realm of employment conflicts, mirrors global trends in dispute resolution, showcasing the nation’s commitment to embracing progressive legal frameworks.
Legal Framework and Developments
The Nigerian Arbitration and Mediation Act of 2023 is a significant milestone in this evolution. This Act harmonizes Nigeria’s arbitration and mediation practices with international standards, drawing inspiration from institutions like the London Centre of International Arbitration (LCIA) and the International Chambers of Commerce (ICC).
It addresses critical aspects such as the enforcement of interim measures, the statute of limitations for arbitral proceedings, the consolidation of arbitral proceedings, and the joinder of parties, thereby enhancing the flexibility and efficiency of the mediation process.
Judicial Support and Institutional Framework
Nigeria’s judicial system has actively promoted mediation, with provisions in the High Court Laws of states like Lagos endorsing this method. The training of judges in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), particularly in mediation, has resulted in increased court referrals to mediation centres. Specialized institutions like the Court of Appeal Mediation Centre (CAMC) and the National Industrial Court (NIC) mediation centre provide structured frameworks for mediation.
Enforceability and Practice
The enforceability of mediation agreements is a critical factor in their effectiveness. In Lagos State, for instance, mediation settlement agreements reached at the Multi-Door Courthouse are legally enforceable.
The Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse Law and the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules provide the legal basis for this enforceability. However, it’s important to note that this is currently limited to Lagos State.
Mediation vs. Litigation
Mediation offers several advantages over traditional litigation. It is less costly, more time-efficient, and allows for greater flexibility in dispute resolution. Unlike litigation, which tends to be adversarial, mediation encourages a collaborative approach, urging parties to work together towards mutually acceptable solutions. Additionally, mediation ensures confidentiality, a crucial consideration in employment disputes.
The progress of mediation in Nigeria, especially in the realm of employment disputes, underscores the nation’s dedication to adopting effective and contemporary dispute-resolution mechanisms. Legal and institutional frameworks supporting mediation have positioned it as an attractive option for resolving employment-related conflicts. As awareness and training in mediation continue to grow, it is poised to become the preferred method for dispute resolution, aligning with the global shift towards more collaborative and cost-effective legal processes.
Eric Ibe is a law lecturer with the Veritas University Abuja, where he teaches Labour and Employment law and other courses. He is the General Secretary, Nigerian Immigration Lawyers Association (NILA).
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