Nigeria’s new Arbitration and Mediation Bill

Nigerian flag with a figure of lady justice standing in front

Nigeria is on the cusp of transforming its alternative dispute resolution (ADR) landscape through its Arbitration and Mediation Bill. It has taken 17 years to get to this point. Enehuwa Adagu looks back at the key stages of the Bill’s development and reflects on what this means for the country.

On 10 May 2022, the Nigerian Senate passed the Arbitration and Mediation Bill. The process to reform Nigeria’s legislation on ADR began back in 2005. The National Committee on the Reform and Harmonisation of Arbitration and ADR Laws in Nigeria was formed, referred to as “the Orojo Committee”, named after the Chairman of the group CIArb Fellow Dr J. Olakunle Orojo.

The Orojo Committee drafted two Bills in 2006, however, these Bills were not enacted into legislation. Despite this, the appetite for change was still strong amongst the Nigerian arbitration community, as evidenced in 2016 when the ACA Reform Committee was established. The ACA Committee had two clear objectives:

  • First to ensure self-regulation of the practice of arbitration and other ADR methods.
  • Second, to advance the passage of a constructive progressive legislation which would increase Nigeria’s attractiveness as a destination for ADR.

The ACA Committee also had a sub-committee that was tasked with identifying which parts of the current legislation needed to be brought in line with the best international practice in ADR.

Additionally, the ACA Committee agreed that any new Bill would be compliant with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law’s (UNCITRAL) rules and model laws. To achieve this objective UNCITRAL assembled their own committee to review the current ADR legislation in Nigeria. The views of the UNCITRAL Committee were taken into consideration by the ACA Committee.

In 2018, UNCITRAL amended the Model Law on International Commercial Conciliation, adopting the Model Law on International Commercial Mediation. The UN Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation (the Singapore Convention) was also adopted that year. Following the adoption of the Model Law and the Singapore Convention, a Bill was put forward which would repeal the current legislation – the Arbitration and Conciliation Act - and enact the Arbitration and Mediation Act (the AMA Bill).  The AMA Bill was passed by the House of Representatives on 23 July 2020, and by the upper chamber on the same date.

Members of CIArb’s Nigeria Branch were involved with the passage of the AMA Bill every step of the way. The Orojo Committee had 13 members of CIArb involved, including the former Branch Chair Mrs Adedoyin Rhodes-Vivour C.Arb and the current Vice Chair Professor Paul Idornigie C.Arb. 23 members of CIArb were part of the ACA Committee including Mrs Rhodes-Vivour and Professor Idornigie, and Branch Committee Members Mrs. Miannaya Essien FCIArb, Mr. Seyilayo Ojo FCIArb and Mrs. Olusola Adegbonmire FCIArb. Furthermore, the Chair of CIArb’s Nigeria Branch, Chief James Akinola C.Arb provided an immense contribution which aided in the passage of the AMA Bill.

The AMA Bill is in line with global ADR developments and trends as it makes provision for emergency arbitration and interim measures, and it incorporates the Singapore Convention into Nigeria’s domestic legislation. In particular, the AMA Bill contains express provisions for the use of third-party funding. Once assented to, the AMA will make Nigeria the third jurisdiction that expressly provides for third-party funding, after Singapore and Hong Kong. Such developments are on par with the direction of travel in the international practice of arbitration and mediation and should increase Nigeria’s attractiveness as an ADR hub in Africa.

It remains to be seen how exactly the AMA will transform the ADR landscape in Nigeria, however once the President assents to the AMA Bill we will undoubtedly begin to see the impact it will have.

Should you have any further questions about the passage of the AMA Bill, please email Enehuwa Adagu at