I would like to thank the Honourable Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Edo State, Prof Yinka Omorogbe for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts on the issue of the broad theme of “Law Reform as a Necessary Tool for Social Engineering and Development” and in particular “The Reform of Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution Law in Edo State”. I acknowledge that I am privileged in several ways: first this is home coming for me; secondly I have been troubled that Edo State is still operating the 1889 English Arbitration Act which later became Arbitration Ordinance 1914 as its Arbitration Law; lastly Edo State is still using the Laws of Bendel State, 1976 including the High Court Law.
My position is informed by the fact that it has become abundantly clear that not all disputes are amenable to the judicial process through litigation. It is also clear that business men (and women) would like their disputes disposed of expeditiously in a forum where they exercise some control instead of going to court where they are simply referred to as ‘plaintiff’ and ‘defendant’ and a third party imposes a decision on them without their involvement in the decision-making process.
Arbitration has become the preferred mode for resolving pure commercial disputes a fortiori, where the parties are from different jurisdictions. In this regard what is critical is to establish a nexus between a dispute and a process to determine the proper forum. The ability to establish this nexus is the new skills that lawyers must acquire.
Other than the doors for litigation and arbitration, there are also doors for conciliation, mediation, med-arb, neutral evaluation, mini-trial and negotiation and hence the concept of the multi-door courthouse. The Multi-Door Courthouse concept is generally court-annexed.
In this presentation, therefore, we shall interrogate the need to have a proper legal regime for Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Edo State. In passing we will review the Edo State Multi-Door Courthouse Law 2017 and the High Court of Edo State (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2018. We will also examine the High Court Law of Edo State, 1976.
Law Reform as a Necessary Tool for Social Engineering and Development
The theme of this Conference is “Law Reform as a Necessary Tool for Social Engineering and Development.” Law is a dynamic subject. As a subject, it can be studied from different perspectives. Without meaning to delve into jurisprudential polemics, law can be studied from a sociological perspective – law in society. The consequence is that there is no one way of undertaking legal study and law reform without interrogating law in society. While the various approaches to the study of law may well have something useful to offer, none has yet managed to produce an analysis of law and legal systems which answers all the many and varied questions which academics and researchers might want to ask. In my view, an understanding of law cannot be acquired unless the subject matter is examined in close relationship to the social, economic and political contexts in which it is created, maintained and implemented. However, law is but a part of the wider social arrangements. What gives a particular society its uniqueness is the way in which these patterns interrelate at any time in history. Law is but one component of the overall social structure having links and dependencies with other social elements and forces – the political institutions (the parliament, political parties), economic and commercial institutions (trade unions, manufacturers’ associations, patterns of production and trade, and so on), religious institutions, institutions concerned with the teaching of social rules and standards (such as schools and family), and cultural institutions (such as literature and the arts, the press, television and radio).