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What you DID NOT miss in 2013

For those who thought they’d missed out on some significant happenings in the global Legal Calendar for 2013, you’d find our highlights for the last quarter of 2013 in this edition, relevant.

•Reasons for the season

As the year came to an end, business lawyers around the major cities of the world, had good reasons to stop work, close offices and give each other a pat on the back for a good (or maybe not-so-good) year.

For them, it was about hard work, consistency, appreciation, rewards and thanksgiving.  The Christmas and New Year holidays was a good time to say thank you to teams and individuals who helped them solve the complexities of the business.

For others, it was a good time to give and get rewards through bonuses, promotions, recognitions, etc, in true spirit of the season. Simply put, lawyers in Lagos and the world over, sure do know the ‘Reason for the Season’- The Act of Giving and The Act of thanksgiving.

In the Lagos Metropolitan city, where 90% of the large commercial law firms are situated, the atmosphere at most city firms was quite a celebratory and festive one.

Having dealt with the more critical issues of year-end financials, assessments, bonuses, recognitions and appreciations, top business lawyers and commercial law firms  were seen dining, partying, and having general jollifications with colleagues and clients around the city of Lagos.

At the law firm of George Etomi & Partners (GEP), it was quite some fun, as partners, senior associates, associates, non-fee earners and guests clinked glasses and out-danced each other on the dance floor.

Reports from London also told of city law firms, particularly the top law firms known as the Magic Circle firms, dining and partying around the city- better than anyone else.

However, here in Nigeria top commercial law firm, Banwo & Ighodalo (B&I) had the best of the season, as it went all out to mark its victories for the year in a most unique style and manner typical of a world class firm; making 2013 a very memorable one for staff and guests, with a Class-Act from Top Nigerian Artist Ice Prince at its Annual end of year celebrations.

But Really….who would blame them? Try taking a peek at the firm’s work/transaction list for 2013 and you ‘may’ understand why.

A general look at year-end activities around the globe, show that lawyers generally celebrate better and party harder than their professional counterparts in other industries and professions. AUK based publication, THELAWYER, reported that lawyers in UK out-partied everybody in the capital except for the fashion industry.

Blame it on professional training and the many dinners we had to endure at the law school or better still, a general appreciation for work-life balance.season-dance

•LCA West Africa Regional ADR Conference

The Lagos Court of Arbitration (LCA) recently hosted the LCA West Africa Regional Alternative Dispute Resolution Conference. The conference was supported by The Law Society of England & Wales, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Nigeria, and the International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP). The objective of the conference was to create awareness and deepen the knowledge of participants in the area of ADR and of the function of the Lagos Court of Arbitration.

The event which held in Lagos, Nigeria, had a wide reach of participants drawn  from the Bar, the Bench and corporate organisations. They included President of the LCA, Babajide Ogundipe; Former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State, Olasupo Shasore, SAN; Director of the LCA, Fabian Ajogwu, SAN; Justice R.N. Ajumogobia; Registrar, Mauritius International Arbitration Court (MCIA), Duncan Bagshaw; Director of the LCA, Funmi Robert; Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer, LCA, Megha Joshi and Conference Chairperson, Bimpe Nknotchou among others.

Giving his remarks at the conference, the President of the LCA, Babajide Ogundipe sad “there was an urgent need to promote arbitration in Nigeria, given the current situation of the courts; and the number of years it takes to resolve cases in Nigerian courts.”

In his welcome address, the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, SAN, who was represented by the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Lagos State,  Mr. Ade Ipaye, urged the business community to embrace ADR for quick resolution of contractual disputes. Governor Fashola noted that the emergence of the Lagos Court of Arbitration was a necessity given that disputes are unavoidable in business.

ADR continues to draw particular appeal from international businesses because of its clear benefits over regular courts.  It is believed to save time, as long drawn out court cases are resolved in ADR within appreciable time.

While many speakers at the conference spoke of the advantages of ADR over litigation, others deepened the discourse by urging counsels should explore other ADR mechanisms, like counselling and mediation, before going to arbitration.

lca
(L-R) – President of the Lagos Court of Arbitration, Babajide Ogundipe; Executive Secretary/CEO of the Lagos Court of Arbitration, Megha Joshi; Registrar, Mauritius International Arbitration Centre, Mauritius, Duncan Bagshaw; Registrar, Kigali International Arbitration Centre, Mauritius, Theirry Gakuba Ngoga and Legal Counsel, Permanent Court of Arbitration, Mauritius, Fedelma Claire Smith at the Lagos Court of Arbitration (LCA) Regional Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Conference held recently in Lagos.

Additionally, the argument was made for lawyers to shun rushing to the law courts to stall execution of resolutions that were reached at the arbitration courts.

SPA Ajibade annual business luncheon

The law firm of Spa Ajibade & Co held its 6th annual business luncheon of commercial law firm, in the last quarter of 2013.

The event titled, “The future of legal practice in Nigeria – achieving judicial excellence,” took place at the prestigious metropolitan club in victoria island, and was attended by a broad selection of transactional and litigation lawyers,  judges, and the business community.

Issues that came up for discussion at the luncheon include, the significance of judicial excellence, critical areas of improvement in the justice system, judicial appointments, procedures, and several other related concerns

Speaking to all the relevant issues, the lead speaker, professor Oba Nsugbe, QC, SAN, and discussants established the significance of judicial excellence, linking it to the multi-faceted role of a judge and why excellence in the judiciary cannot be compromised on this basis.

At the top these roles, was the all-important responsibility to deliver ‘impartial decisions’ at all times. This, according to Nsugbe was at the root of every other obligation and role of the judiciary, which includes its distinctive role as the public face of justice, society’s social conscience, guardians of freedom, and possibly, the last defence for the oppressed.

Highlighting the need for excellence in the judiciary, Nsugbe noted the fundamental and deep-rooted structural challenges the judiciary faces. Stating, “it is self-evident that judges do not carry out their work in vacuum. They are not immune from the severe problems which beset our country, be it poor infrastructure, chronic power shortages, difficult working conditions, corruption, a crumbling education system amongst other things.”

SPA-AjibadeParticipants identified adequate and uniform remuneration packages, excellent work conditions, as well as support from the bar, as practical means to achieving judicial excellence.

In his closing remarks, the chairman of the event, hon. Justice Kumai Bayang Akaahs of the supreme court of Nigeria, announced that there was no justification; whether infrastructural, poor remuneration or whatsoever, for the collection of bribe.

“if your intention for coming on the bench is to acquire wealth, then you have definitely come to the wrong place,” he stated.

Discourse on the performance and progress of the judiciary in nigeria has dominated many academic, economic and national debates around the country, as the role and importance of this great institution to the society, cannot be over-emphasized.

The spa Ajibade business luncheon which is the sixth in a series of annual luncheons, is exclusively directed at the legal community as the firm’s contribution to the development of the legal profession in Nigeria. The first of these series of luncheons was first launched in 2008 and the theme of the inaugural luncheon was “globalisation and the challenges of practicing law as a business – a view from the west”.

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