What legal requirements are there for recognition of an award? Must reasons be given for the award? Does the award need to be reviewed by any other body?
The award must be in writing and signed by the arbitrators. Where the tribunal comprises of more than one arbitrator, the majority’s signatures will suffice if the reason for the absence of any signature is stated.
The award must contain the reasons on which it is based, unless the parties have agreed that no reasons are to be given or the award is an award on agreed terms.
The award must also contain the date it was made and state the place of the arbitration, as agreed by the parties or determined by the tribunal.
A copy of the award signed by the arbitrators must be delivered to each party.
The arbitral award need not be reviewed by any other body.
Timeframe for delivery
Are there any time limits on delivery of the award?
There are no time limits on delivery of an award. However, time limits exist for correcting and interpreting an award and making an additional award. The tribunal may extend the time limit within which it must do any of the above if it deems this necessary.
Does the law impose limits on the available remedies? Are some remedies not enforceable by the court?
No. All of the remedies recognised under the relevant laws are enforceable by the courts.
What interim measures are available? Will local courts issue interim measures pending constitution of the tribunal?
Interim measures include measures for the conservation of goods forming the subject matter of the dispute and for the security of costs. The high courts can issue interim measures pending constitution of the tribunal.
Can interest be awarded?
Interest can be awarded based on the parties’ agreements in this regard.
At what rate?
Interest can be awarded at a rate agreed by the parties or proved before the arbitral tribunal.
Is the award final and binding?
Yes. Arbitral awards are final and binding on the parties to the arbitration.
What if there are any mistakes?
Mistakes in awards can be corrected on the request of one of the parties within an agreed timeframe or within 30 days of the receipt of the award. The party applying for the correction must notify the other party when requesting the correction. A correction can be in respect of any:
- errors in computation;
- clerical or typographical errors; or
- errors of a similar nature.
Where the tribunal considers the request justified, it will make the correction and provide an interpretation, and the correction or interpretation will form part of the award.
Can the parties exclude by agreement any right of appeal or other recourse that the law of your jurisdiction may provide?
The parties are bound by the strict terms of their agreement and may exclude their right to recourse against an award in the agreement. However, such agreements may be unenforceable if challenged, as the courts have held in other circumstances that access to the judicial system is a public right which cannot be waived.
On what grounds can parties appeal an award?
There are no grounds to appeal against an arbitral award under Nigerian law. However, a party to a domestic arbitration may apply to the high court to have an award set aside on grounds that:
- the tribunal exceeded its jurisdiction;
- the tribunal was guilty of misconduct; or
- the award was fraudulently procured.
Regarding awards in international arbitration, the court may set aside an award if the party making the application can prove that:
- a party to the arbitration agreement was under some legal incapacity;
- the arbitration agreement is invalid under the law chosen by the parties, or failing such an indication, that the arbitration agreement is invalid under Nigerian law;
- the aggrieved party was not given proper notice of the appointment of an arbitrator or of the arbitral proceedings, or was otherwise unable to present its case;
- the award deals with a dispute not contemplated by or not falling within the terms of the submission to arbitration;
- the award addresses matters which are beyond the scope of the submission to arbitration;
- the composition of the arbitral tribunal or the arbitral procedure was not in accordance with the parties’ agreement;
- where there is no agreement between the parties as to the arbitral tribunal or the arbitral procedure, the composition of the arbitral tribunal or the arbitral procedure was not in accordance with the Arbitration and Conciliation Act;
- the subject matter of the dispute is incapable of settlement by arbitration under Nigerian law; or
- the award is against Nigerian public policy.
The award or part of it will be rendered unenforceable where the court sets aside the award or part of it based on any the above grounds.
What is the procedure for challenging awards?
A party that is aggrieved by an arbitral award can apply to the High Court to set aside the award within three months of the date of the award or after the correction of the award. The High Court may set aside the award or part of the award if the party making the application proves that the award or a part of it contains decisions on matters which were beyond the scope of the submission to arbitration.
Where an application to set aside an award is brought, the High Court may, at the request of a party, suspend its proceedings for a period that it deems appropriate so that the arbitral tribunal can resume the arbitral proceedings or take other actions to eliminate the grounds for the setting aside of the award.
What steps can be taken to enforce the award if there is a failure to comply?
If there is a failure to comply, a party can file an application for enforcement of the award in the manner prescribed by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act and the rules of the court. The party relying on the award or applying for its enforcement must supply the duly authenticated original or a duly certified copy of the award and the original arbitration agreement or a duly certified copy.
Can awards be enforced in local courts?
Awards can be enforced in local courts in the same manner as a court judgment.
How enforceable is the award internationally?
Local arbitral awards are enforceable internationally, subject to compliance with the municipal laws of the country where enforcement is to be made.
To what extent might a state or state entity successfully raise a defence of state or sovereign immunity at the enforcement stage?
Nigeria is likely to be able to raise a successful defence of sovereign immunity where the assets against which enforcement is sought can be shown to be non-commercial assets.
Are there any other bases on which an award may be challenged, and if so, by what?
Generally, there are no other grounds on which an arbitral award may be challenged. However, challenges regarding the misconduct of the tribunal or an arbitrator are open to a wide range of interpretations and parties are generally able to allege several grounds of challenge.
In addition, in the case of Statoil v FIRS ((2014) LPELR-23144(CA)), a first-instance court held that a third party that is likely to be affected by the outcome of the award can challenge an arbitral award on that basis. This position has been confirmed by the Court of Appeal in Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Co Ltd v Federal Inland Revenue Service, Appeal CA/A/208/2012.
How enforceable are foreign arbitral awards in your jurisdiction?
Foreign arbitral awards are commonly enforced in Nigeria through the following means:
- by an action on the award;
- by registration as judgments under the Foreign Judgment (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1990;
- by recognition and enforcement under Section 51 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1990;
- by recognition and enforcement under the New York Convention 1958; and
- under the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes Convention.
Will an award that has been set aside by the courts in the seat of arbitration be enforced in your jurisdiction?
No. Under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, an award that has been set aside by the court in the seat of arbitration cannot be enforced in Nigeria.
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