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What are the validity requirements for an arbitration agreement?
To be valid, an arbitration agreement must be in writing or otherwise evidenced in writing. Further, both parties must have mutually agreed or consented to the agreement. The parties must have legal capacity to enter into the agreement. Then, the arbitration agreement must be in respect of a commercial relationship.
Enforcement of agreements
How are arbitration agreements enforced in your jurisdiction? What is the attitude of the national courts towards arbitration agreements?
Nigerian courts tend to uphold arbitration agreements. Arbitration agreements are enforced by a successful application for a stay of proceedings and a reference of the dispute to arbitration. Courts rarely refuse such an application where the applicant has shown that it is ready, able and willing to arbitrate the dispute. Where a party to an arbitration applies to the court, the court could compel the attendance of any witness by subpoena.
Can an arbitral tribunal with its seat in your jurisdiction consolidate separate arbitral proceedings under one or more contracts, and, if so, in what circumstances?
The Arbitration and Conciliation Act does not expressly empower an arbitral tribunal to consolidate separate arbitral proceedings. However, Section 40 of the Lagos Arbitration Law states that parties are free to agree to consolidate arbitral proceedings with other proceedings or that concurrent hearings be held on agreed terms. The Lagos law further provides that a party that was not originally a party to the proceedings may be joined with the consent of the other parties.
Choice of law
How is the substantive law of the dispute determined? Where the substantive law is unclear, how will a tribunal determine what it should be?
The substantive law of the dispute is determined by the parties’ agreement. In the absence of an agreement, Nigerian law will apply in cases of domestic arbitration. In cases of international arbitration, the conflict of law rules applied by the tribunal will determine the law to be applied.
Are there any provisions on the separability of arbitration agreements?
Yes. Section 12(2) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act.
Are multiparty agreements recognised?
There are no limitations on multiparty agreements. The parties have autonomy to agree on how to organise their claims therein.
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