NMLA constitutes committee to reform Admiralty Law practice in Nigeria




A 16-man committee constituted by the Nigerian Maritime Law Association would be working to reposition admiralty law practice in Nigeria, with the aim of achieving global standards in adjudication, considering speed and sound judicial interpretation of substantive law.

In a statement jointly signed by President of the association, Chidi Ilogu SAN, and Secretary, Emeka Akabogu, the NMLA said initiating the reform became necessary upon its observation of an overall decline against expectations from the practice.

It said: “The Nigerian Maritime Law Association has observed the steady decline of admiralty law and practice over the years, largely as a result of sub-optimal procedural rules and poor judicial interpretation of substantive law.

“Judicial decisions have not been consistent with standard global expectations while speed, which is at the heart of functional admiralty litigation, has taken a back-seat.

“In the result, a number of significant maritime interests are no longer keen on having Nigeria as a jurisdiction for adjudication of their disputes.
To boost industry confidence in, and dispute resolution efficiency for Admiralty law and practice in Nigeria, the Nigerian Maritime Law Association is leading efforts towards the reform of key procedural rules and substantive law.”

Members of the Nigeria Admiralty Law and Procedure Reform Committee include, Mrs. Jean Chiazor-Anishere (Co-Chair), Sir Osuala Nwagbara (Co-Chair), Mrs. Omolola Ikwuagwu, Mr. Nelson Otaji, Ms. Chisa Uba, Mr. Babatunde Ogungbamila.
Others are Sir Adolphus Nwachukwu, Mr. Adedoyin Afun, Dr. Echefu Ukattah, Mr. Nonso Azih, Mr. Olukayode Dada, and Ms. Kashimana Tsumba.

The advisory members are Prof. Gbolahan Elias, SAN, Mr. Dolapo Akinrele, SAN, Dr. Wale Olawoyin, SAN, and Mr. Olumide Sofowora, SAN.

On the terms of reference, the statement reads that: “The Committee is expected to propose initiatives and implementation strategies for repositioning admiralty law practice with a particular focus on achieving speed in filing, assignment, hearing and determination of admiralty matters, Implementation of a modern fit-for purpose Admiralty Registry.

“Review of procedural rules, in particular -of Admiralty Jurisdiction Procedure Rules of Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules, reform of substantive law, in particular - of 1999 Constitution o Admiralty Jurisdiction Act of Federal High Court Act.”

The Committee is expected to commence work immediately and submit its report by the 25th of May 2020.