Nigeria Reform of Arbitration Law: A Closer Look at the Major Legislative Changes

On 26 May 2023, the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria signed into law the 2023 Arbitration and Mediation Act 2023 (New Arbitration Act), which repeals the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1988 (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 Cap A18) (1988 Act).

The New Arbitration Act, as highlighted in its explanatory memorandum, has the purpose of “provid[ing] a unified legal framework for the fair and efficient settlement of commercial disputes by arbitration and mediation”. It is further stated that the New Arbitration Act “make[s] applicable the New York Convention [on the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards] to any award made in Nigeria or in any contracting State.”

The New Arbitration Act’s objective to enhance and strengthen Nigeria’s arbitration system and cement Nigeria’s status as a leading arbitration hub is primarily achieved by (i) regulating national courts’ power to issue, recognise and enforce interim measures, (ii) establishing a tribunal for the review of arbitral awards, (iii) providing mandatory stay of parallel court proceedings, and (iv) regulating the issue of third-party funding in arbitration.