Onnoghen Decries Delays in Court Cases, Says It’s Scaring Away Investors

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen wednesday, identified delays experienced in the trial of court cases as a form of discouragement to investors in the country.

Onnoghen, who stated this at a seminar for judges on Construction Law said, the judiciary in addressing the situation directed courts in the country to embrace the ADR which has the capacity of reducing cases in the courts as well as restoring the peoples’ confidence in the judiciary.

The seminar, which is the first to be organized for judges and relevant stakeholders in the construction sector, was aimed at equipping judges with relevant skills and development in construction law, that would enhance their capacity in handling related cases.

“My Lords, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, it goes without saying that a justice system which is riddled with delays in the adjudication of cases will be unattractive to investors.

“It is also instructive to note that, where Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism are effectively deployed, same will drastically reduce the volume of cases before our courts. Such a system will encourage investment as investors will be confident that their assets and investments are secured “, he said.

The CJN disclosed that as part of efforts at ensuring that the court complies with the directive to deploy the mechanism in resolving conflicts, the ADR will now form part of their quarterly evaluation exercise.

He reiterated the charge to all courts to desist from entertaining contracts with arbitration clauses.

“I urged the concerned heads of courts to make practice directions that will dissuade litigants who institute actions without first exploring the arbitration clauses in contracts.

“Judges should also encourage Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism in cases that are less contentious before them as this aids decongestion of our courts “, Onnoghen stressed.

He said the theme, ” Laying the foundation for effective Dispute Resolution in the Nigerian Construction Sector, is apt and significant in the sense that it was tailored towards enlightening and broadening the horizon of participants.

He added that the seminar will also imbibe in the judges the requisite skill for the effective disposition of cases.

Administrator of the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Hon Justice Rosaline Bozimo (Rtd), said as a result of the incredible growth the country is undergoing, the construction sector now faces numerous challenges, “Ranging from archaic regulations, demand and supply, disputes in relations to claims for payment, damages due to defects in completed works, and variations in contract sums due to inflation”.

To address these challenges, Bozimo, stated that, it is important that the judges must continuously update their knowledge on construction law and other regulations governing the sector so as to ensure fairness to disputing parties.