The International Law Association (ILA) Arbitration Committee (Nigeria) hosted its Rise To Professional Stardom Series (RPSS) on February 2, 2023, with its keynote speaker and renowned international arbitrator, Dorothy Ufot, SAN.

In his opening remarks, the Committee’s Chairman, Tolu Aderemi, noted with concern the not-too impressive active play of African arbitrators in the global space. According to Aderemi, there is the erroneous perception that some African arbitrators lack integrity and this is what accounts for parties to prefer foreign appointment into arbitration panels. He however made the emphatic point that this perception is wrong and must be corrected.

“Nigeria has some of the finest and best brains in arbitration, most of whom have been involved in landmark arbitration decisions. Do we have one or two cases of those who do not make us proud? Yes, like in other parts of the world. This infinitesimal number should not be a barometer for judging other brilliant ones”, Aderemi stated.

The Arbitration Committee Boss further admonished his colleagues that African arbitrators must not only demonstrate intellectual capacity of international arbitration laws, principles and procedures, they must also be seen to have uncommon integrity and be of unquestionable character. In his closing statements, Aderemi reiterated that the ILA Arbitration committee is committed to cutting-edge training on international arbitration and urged those interested in international arbitration to take advantage of the 2023 ILA, Arb Committee training calendar.

In a fireside chat anchored by renowned ChannelsTV Journalist, Shola Soyele (who is also the ILA, Arbitration Committee Publicity Director), the RPSS Honouree, Dorothy Ufot, SAN, encouraged arbitrators to always seek to achieve excellence and the only way to do it is by demonstrating intellectual capacity and not attracting attention by any means other than the intellect.

According to the renowned international arbitrator and member of the Inner Bar, she noted that arbitrators must ensure that they consciously live a balanced life; work with like-minded hardworking colleagues, ensure the home front is peaceful by marrying an understanding spouse but also not sacrifice the home on the altar of work.

Mrs Ufot also admonished aspiring arbitrators to embrace volunteering as Registrars or assistants as this is the only way they can learn. At the same time, Mrs Ufot encouraged that decent and commensurate remuneration should be given to deserving young arbitrators. On another note, the renowned arbitrator encouraged arbitrators to be courageous when sitting on international panels alongside their foreign counterparts as that is the only way respect will be earned. She also encouraged them to attend international conferences and trainings and keep the network created during these training very close.

In his complimentary view, a past Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Mr Tunde Busari, SAN encouraged younger lawyers to offer themselves for arbitration services as this gives such young arbitrators visibility in international arbitration. Busari also decried the art of laziness on the part of young arbitrators when given opportunities.

According to the learned senior advocate of Nigeria, it is becoming a culture for young arbitrators to demonstrate a culture of entitlement even when they have not satisfactorily provided the service. In his view, some young arbitrators’ assistance makes the job of the senior arbitrator even more complicated. In his final analysis, Busari encouraged arbitrators to develop a mastery of international laws as this is a potent weapon to becoming relevant in international arbitration.

The Rise To Professional Stardom (RPSS) is one of the flagship programmes of the ILA and according to the Programs’ Director, Deinma Dibi, there will be only 4 (four) of the Series in a year. He therefore encouraged members and intending members to take full advantage of the mentorship session.

In his further remarks, Mr Dibi reiterated the primary purpose of the Association; which is to provide training and capacity development. He encouraged intending members to take advantage of the stellar faculty which comprised of both international and Nigerian leading arbitrators.

The RPSS, which started with a cocktail sponsored by Mr Bisi Makanjuola, a partner with the firm of Olaniwun Ajayi LP, had in attendance both lawyers and non-lawyers including the Managing Director/CEO of Heritage Bank, Mr, George-Taylor, the head of Rules and Adjudication, Nigerian Exchange, Mr Toyin Adenugba, Foluke Akinmoladun, Delayo Oriekun, Dr. Foluke Dada, Colonel Arigbe and several other high profile non-lawyers.

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