The Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration – Lagos (“The Centre”)
(“The Centre”) was established in Lagos – Nigeria in 1989 under the auspices of the Asian African Legal Consultative Organisation (AALCO) by exchange of letters of agreement concluded in 1980 between the AALCO and the Centre’s host – the federal government of Nigeria (the host).
The continued operations of the Centre in Nigeria was ratified by treaty executed on 26th April 1999 in form of a Head Quarters Agreement between the AALCO and the host.
In furtherance of the tenents of international law, the domestication of the headquarters agreement cumulated in the codification of the terms therein in a municipal law – the Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration “Act No. 39 of 1999 (the Act)”; bringing to completion the legal framework for the existence of the Centre in Nigeria.
The Lagos Centre is one of the four Regional Centres under the AALCO’s Scheme which is the culmination of a series of efforts on the part of the developing countries (ever since the Havana Conference held between 1947-1948) at international and regional levels, within and outside the United Nations to provide a fair and adequate system for settlement of disputes arising out of international commercial transactions including foreign investments.
The first Centre was established in Kuala-Lumpur in 1978 to serve the Asian Countries, second was Cairo Centre in 1979 to serve North African and Middle Eastern Countries whilst Lagos Centre was established in 1989 to serve African Countries South of the Sahara. The most recent, is the Tehran Centre established in 1997. The Lagos Centre which recorded very slow progress, due to unavoidable operational difficulties has been reactivated by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of justice and is now fully functional. The Centre is a non-profit making institution established with the prime objective of providing a system for settlement of disputes for the benefit of parties engaged in trade, commerce and investment with and within the region, through fair, expeditious and inexpensive procedures, so that resort to arbitration institutions outside the region may no longer be necessary. The Centre also assists in the enforcement of arbitral awards and other matters incidental thereto including facilities for ad hoc arbitration.
The Rules for arbitration under the auspices of the Lagos Centre are the United Nations Commission for International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Arbitration Rules of 1976 with necessary modifications and adaptations. The UNCITRAL Rules have been recommended by the United Nations General Assembly by its Resolution No. XXX198 adopted on the 15th December, 1976 and has been widely accepted by the international community. Unlike other institutional arbitration, the rules of the Centre allow a great deal of flexibility in the conduct of proceedings of the arbitration and leaves a wide discretion to the parties with regard to the choice of arbitrators, the place of arbitration and the applicability of the procedural rules. For this reason, the Centre maintains an international panel of arbitrators and another panel for conciliators. Each panel contains the names of a number of eminent jurists, judges and diplomats drawn from the countries in the Asian-African region as well as the countries which have close economic links or large investments in the Asian-African Region.
The facilities for arbitration under the auspices of the Lagos Center can be availed of by the parties who may request for it, whether government, individuals or bodies corporate, provided the dispute is of an international character, that is to say, the parties belong to or are resident in two different jurisdictions, or the dispute involves international commercial interests. The Centre has an autonomous international character and its seat is in Lagos. The Chief Executive is the Director. The Centre enjoys all the privileges accorded to other international organizations in accordance with International Law.
The Centre has arrangements with certain institutions such as the World Bank’s International Centre for settlement of Investment Disputes under which arbitration proceedings under the auspices of such institutions can be held at the seat of the Centre. The cost of arbitration including the registration fee, the fees of arbitrators as also the expenses reasonably incurred by the Centre in connection with the arbitration as well as its administrative charges would be borne by the parties having regard to the nonprofit making character of the Centre.