CONSTRUCTION ARBITRATION: AWODEIN READS RIOT ACT TO LAWYERS

The President and Chairman of Council of the Institute of Construction Industry Arbitrators (ICIArb), Mr. Kola Awodein SAN has warned lawyers against engaging in unethical conduct in the practice of arbitration.

Speaking at the investiture of Fellows and induction of new members of the Institute of Construction Industry Arbitrators held at Eko Hotel & Suites, Lagos, Awodein noted that there are “numerous reports of Arbitrators, especially legal practitioners, making a seeming mockery of the Arbitral process by demonstrating obvious bias and partisanship and blatantly refusing to do justice to the parties and in most cases, without appropriate sanctions being meted out to them.”

Warning that the Institute would no longer condone such malpractice, Awodein, who was represented by the Institute’s President-elect, Mr. Felix Okereke-Onyeri (FNIQS, FICIArb), said: “It is important to sound it loud and clear that this is a practice and conduct that we do not welcome or tolerate in our Institute especially now that there is increasing interest in joining the Institute.”

He urged the new fellows and members to “comply faithfully with the ethics of the Body as we are determined to enforce the ethics especially in the light of the damage that is being done to the practice of Arbitration by Arbitral panels.”

In his address, the Secretary General of the Institute, Bar. Emmanuel Dike (FICIArb) noted the confidence reposed in the body by the inductees “and trust that you will be ambassadors of the Institute as far as construction industry arbitration is concerned.”

Noting that construction involves immense multidisciplinary and inter-disciplinary activity “governed by layers of simultaneous contractual relationships,” the Secretary General stated that “An understanding of the technical principles for the purpose of dispute resolution provides an edge to the professional equipped with the relevant skillset. Admission to this prestigious body is therefore an opportunity to join the league of successful sought-after arbitrators.”

According to Dike, “Given the ongoing need for continuous professional development within the Institute, our members who belong to the primary institutions governing their professions, such as the Nigerian Institute of Architects, the Nigerian Bar Association, the Nigeria Society of Engineers, the Nigeria Institute of Quantity Surveyors – to mention but a few – are encouraged to attend courses by other certified professional bodies to enhance their skills and competence.”

Among those inducted as fellows are former Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, Mr. Bayo Ojo SAN; leading arbitrator, Mrs. Funke Adekoya SAN; Mr. Adeniyi Adegbonmire SAN; Mrs. Funke Agbor SAN; Mr. Godwin Omoaka SAN and Mrs. Obosa Akpata. Also honoured posthumously was Arc. Umaru Aliyu, the Institute’s past Vice President and former president of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA). Others are Chief Eboh Andrew Otokhina, Mr. Adedapo Osariuyime Tunde-Olowu (SAN), Mr. Okey Akobundu and Mr. Emeka Onyeka.

The Institute of Construction Industry Arbitrators was inaugurated on the October 15, 1993 as a multi–disciplinary institution with members drawn from the professions related to the construction industry and has become the leading arbitral institution in the construction industry in Nigeria. As a specialized alternative dispute resolution (ADR) body, in the construction industry, the Institute provides a one-stop shop for the resolution of disputes arising from construction contracts in order to free the construction industry from protracted litigation and the uncertainties inherent in construction related disputes.

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