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Representation of Arbitration Proceedings – Shell vs FIRS

Representation of Arbitration Proceedings – Shell vs FIRS

Jan 11, 2019 - Case Studies by

It is settled position of the law that parties to litigation are represented by legal practitioners. This position appears to have found its way into arbitration in Nigeria as opposed to the International best practices. This negates the principle of party autonomy, which is a hallmark of arbitration. The current tune of the going by judicial decisions tends to portray that only legal practitioners, qualified to practice law in Nigeria, are eligible to represent the parties to arbitral proceedings. The article critiques judicial decisions (particularly Okafor v Nweke and Shell v Federal Inland Revenue Service) leaning towards the position that only legal practitioners qualified to practice in Nigeria are eligible to make representation for parties to arbitral proceedings. It canvases for a departure from the current position and calls for international best practices that give to parties’ autonomy on the choice of representation, which is not only to be limited to the engagement of legal practitioners but to other persons of their choice. Therefore, it is expedient the there should be clarity on the right to representation at arbitration as distinguished from litigation in Nigeria.