Following the repeal of the erstwhile legislation on commercial arbitration, the Arbitration and Conciliation Act[1] by the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, through the newly enacted Arbitration and Mediation Act, 2023, ‘the Act’, the evolving commercial leading dispute resolution mechanisms in Nigeria, arbitration and mediation have begun to experience pockets of positiveness by the instrumentality of the new enactment.

The enactment of the Act primarily for international best practice, seeks to among others, provide a unified legal framework for the fair and efficient settlement of commercial disputes through arbitration and mediation, make applicable the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention) to any award made in Nigeria or in any contracting state arising out of international commercial arbitration.[2]

The Act is two winged, covering both arbitration and mediation, aimed at promoting fair resolution of disputes by an impartial tribunal without unnecessary delay or expense.[3] It appears on the face of the Act that disputes resolution through the mechanism of arbitration firmly upholds the keys of impartial tribunal, accelerated and expeditious proceedings and fair costings. The Act also extends its scope to international commercial arbitration, subject to any agreement in force between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and any other country (ies); inter-state commercial arbitration within the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and commercial arbitration within the Federal Republic of Nigeria[4]. The Act by this provision is in no small way giving much credence and confidence to the seat of arbitration in the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.


The Act expressly and widely provides for the powers of the court to stay court proceedings, grant interim measures of protection, recognition and enforcement of interim measures, refusing recognition and enforcement of interim measures, securing the attendance of witnesses, recognition and enforcement of awards and refusing recognition and enforcement of awards.[5]

  1. Power to stay court proceedings

A court before which an action is brought in matter, which is the subject of an arbitration agreement is required by the Act to refer the parties to arbitration proceedings upon any of the parties’ request and when the agreement is not found void, inoperative or incapable of being performed. This provision gives room for the commencement or continuation of an arbitral proceeding even when an application has been made to stay proceeding, and an award may be made by the arbitral tribunal while the matter is still pending before the court. The Court as well has the power to preserve the rights of parties by way of an interim or supplementary order.

  1. Power to grant interim measures of protection[6]

The Court also has and can exercise the power to grant interim measures of protection for the purposes of, and in relation to arbitration proceedings whose seat is in the Federal Republic of Nigeria or is in another country as it has for the purpose of, and in relation to proceedings in the courts.


In the discharge or purported discharge of their functions, an arbitrator, appointing authority, or an arbitral institution is not liable for anything done or omitted within the purview of the Act, save that such actions or omissions must not be in bad faith. The immunity also extends to an employee of such categories of arbitrators.


The Act’s innovation an initiative for the appointment of emergency arbitrators under this new regime now permits application for expeditious interim relief pending the constitution of a formal arbitral tribunal. Any party who requires emergency relief may, concurrent with or following the filing of a request for a dispute to be referred to arbitration but before the constitution of the arbitral tribunal under the new regime, may submit an application for the appointment of an emergency arbitrator to any arbitral institution designated by the parties or failing such designation, to the court, giving a statement of the emergency relief sought, which cannot await the constitution of an arbitral tribunal.

Any application for urgent interim measures from a competent court is not deemed to be an infringement or waiver of the arbitration agreement.[9] However, a party may disagree with and challenge the appointment of any emergency arbitrator [10] under such grounds as it applies with a regular arbitrator,[11]notwithstanding that the arbitral institution or court may a appoint a substitute arbitrator.[12] And in such circumstance where the emergency arbitrator is replaced, the emergency relief proceedings shall at the stage where the emergency arbitrator was replaced or ceased to perform assigned functions, unless the substitute emergency arbitrator decides otherwise. All these are also aiming at an expeditious proceeding.

The seat of the emergency relief proceedings shall also be the seat of the arbitration, where the parties have agreed on the seat of arbitration, while the arbitral institution or court that appointed the emergency arbitrator are required by the Act to fix seat of the emergency relief proceedings, where the parties have not agreed on the seat of arbitration.[13]


An arbitral tribunal, where the parties agree, may grant a temporary measure, whether in the form an award or in another form, called interim measures at the request of a party.

Interim Measure is a temporary measure[15], which at any time before the final award which decides the dispute is rendered,  which an arbitral tribunal orders to maintain or restore the status quo pending determination of the dispute; take action that may prevent, or refrain from taking action that is likely to cause, current or imminent harm or prejudice to the arbitral process itself; provide a means of preserving assets out of which a subsequent award may be satisfied; or preserve evidence that may be relevant and material to the resolution of the dispute or preserve the subject matter of the arbitration itself.

Such a party applying to the arbitral tribunal for interim measures is required to satisfy that harm not adequately reparable by an award of damages is likely to result where the measure is not ordered, and the harm substantially outweighs the harm that is likely to result to the party against whom the measure is directed where the measure is granted; and that there is a reasonable possibility that the requesting party may succeed on the merits of the claim. However, any determination on this possibility must not affect the discretion of the arbitral tribunal to make any subsequent determination.

Moreso, a party may by an ex parte application, make a request to the arbitral tribunal for an interim measure together with an application for a preliminary order[16] directing a party not to frustrate the purpose of the interim measure requested and if considered that prior disclosure of the request for the interim measure to the party against whom it is directed may frustrate the purpose of the measure. However, opportunity must be given to any party against whom a preliminary order is directed to present its case at the earliest possible time.


The parties during the arbitral proceedings may settle at any time. The arbitral tribunal shall terminate the arbitral proceedings and may where requested by the parties and agreed to by the tribunal, record the settlement in the form of an arbitral award on agreed terms.

An award on agreed terms states that it is such award, and it has the same status and effect as any other award on the merits of the case.


The arbitral proceedings terminate when the final award is made or when an order of the arbitral tribunal is issued for termination where claimant withdraws the claim, unless the respondent objects to it and the arbitral tribunal recognises a legitimate interest on its part to obtain a final settlement of dispute; parties agree to the termination of the arbitral proceedings; or arbitral proceedings has become necessary or impossible. On termination of the arbitral proceedings, the mandate of the tribunal thereafter ceases.


The arbitral tribunal is required by the provision of the Act to fix costs of arbitration in its award and the term to include all that the Act provides in S 50 (1), a reasonable amount, considering the amount in dispute, the complexity of the subject matter, the time spent by the arbitrators and all other relevant circumstances of the case.

Advance deposit may be requested by the tribunal, upon its establishment, each party to deposit an equal sum as advance for the costs. However, supplementary deposit may still be requested during the arbitral proceedings.

Where the required deposits are not paid in full within thirty (30) days, and the arbitral tribunal having informed the parties for necessary actions on payment, the arbitral tribunal may order the suspension or termination of the arbitral proceedings.

Essentially, the new regime of the Act brings a paradigm shift to arbitral process and proceedings which without controversy, posits Nigerian arbitration in a seat other than the back seat in seats of arbitration across the globe. The developments would however be better harnessed when individuals, industries, corporations, business firms and enterprises give due attention to necessary legal advisory to their transactions, agreement and or contract, legal relations among other contractual obligations.[21]


[1] Cap. A18, LFN, 2002

[2] Schedule to the Arbitration and Mediation Bill 2023

[3] S 1(1) of the Act.

[4] S 5of the Act.

[5] S5,19,28,29,43,57,and 58 of the Act respectively.

[6] S19 of the Act.

[7] S 13 of the Act.

[8] S 16 of the Act.

[9] S16 (11) of the Act.

[10] S17 of the Act.

[11] S8 of the Act.

[12] S 17 (3) of the Act.

[13] S18 of the Act. Subject to the determination of the seat or f arbitration by the arbitral tribunal under S32 of the Act.

[14] S20 of the Act.

[15] S20 (2) of the Act.

[16] S22 of the Act.

[17] S45 of the Act.

[18] S48 of the Act.

[19] S52 of the Act.




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