By Peter Uzoho
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will today unveil a new ecosystem for access to justice and legal services in Nigeria, at a virtual legaltech conference organised by Law Pavilion Business Solution and Telnet Nigeria.
The two-day conference, according to the organisers, will feature a keynote lecture, panel discussions and breakout session on the role of an efficient justice system in driving the wheel of innovation and economic growth.
Some of the participants include a Supreme Court Justice, Hon. Olukayode Ariwoola; Attorney General of Ekiti State, Mr. Wale Fapohunda; Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dr. Babatunde Ajibade; Group Managing Director of Telnet Nigeria Limited, Mr. Folorunsho Aliu; and Dr. Ayodele Akenroye, Judge of Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Dr Ayodele Akenroye; amongst others.
Briefing journalists in Lagos, the Managing Director of Law Pavilion Business Solutions, Mr. Ope Olugasa, said it has become imperative to leverage technology to accelerate access to justice for Nigerians and organisations interested in doing business in Nigeria.
According to Olugasa, “if there is no predictable and reliable framework for allocation and execution of power, humans have the tendency to overstep their bounds, and this will also in turn be meted out with unsavoury reactions or revolts which could be expressed in many forms.”
He stated that while the general public tends to think of the judiciary as the least visible or important arm of government, the role of the judiciary comprising judges, lawyers, arbitrators, mediators and legal institutions in economic growth and development was so critical, that where the justice system was fraught with inefficiencies and inadequacies, economic growth was stunted.
He pointed out that, “in today’s global market, true wealth is no longer in only expansive real estate or tangible cash, but in holding intangible intellectual property.
“Thus, economies that do not accord enough recognition and protection of law to intellectual property stand a genuine risk of not being at par with other economies”.
The conference, according to him, presents an excellent opportunity to have those conversations that could help the industry to move forward very quickly, as the world gradually starts to recover from the pandemic and its impact on global economy.
Olusaga added that one of the overarching goals of the conference was to increase the level of awareness of the relationship and interdependence between economic growth, innovation and justice, while offering stakeholders the opportunity to rub minds, share ideas and learn from each other.
Other goals of the conference, according to him, was to draw attention to the fact that technological innovations requires the bedrock of adequate laws and efficient enforcement mechanisms for sustained growth and economic returns.
Explaining the concept of the ecosystem of access to justice and Nigeria’s legal services, he said: “there are different players and stakeholders in this space, comprising of the lawmakers, the court system, the lawyers/law firms, corporate legal departments and litigants/consumers of legal services.
“At present, there is no nexus connecting all these various but important stakeholders, each one exists in a silo as it were.
“Our objective remains how to leverage legal technologies as the bedrock of integration, to create a sustainable ecosystem where all these components interact robustly with each other, and we have started making this a reality through some of the products we have and our most recent project with Ondo State Judiciary.
“As you are aware, the Supreme Court of Nigeria and the Nigerian Bar Association have recently championed various initiatives to enhance how lawyers work and interact with the court systems. Having a robust legal ecosystem will bridge the gap and disconnect that currently exists.”
He further explained that many Nigerians were on various social media platforms, and that this has given unprecedented access to elected officials, such that using the idea of crowdsourcing (through likes, retweets and shares), people are able to galvanize a huge momentum about a policy or proposed law.