The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen on Wednesday said a justice system riddled with delays in adjudication of cases will scare away investors.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2018 National Seminar on Construction Law (NSCL) for Judges at the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Justice Onnoghen said investment will be encouraged in the country if Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism is effectively deployed, as they will be confident that their assets and investment will be secured.
The CJN said the multi-door Court House introduced by the judiciary, across the country has made ADR easily accessible and also encourages litigants to access the various dispute resolution mechanisms available.
He said construction sector in the country has been faced with a myriad of challenges despite the so many laws regulating the sector and added that such development has made investment in the sector unattractive.
He told participants at the seminar that, in a bid to promote ADR, he has, “Directed that courts must ensure that contracts, where arbitration clauses are inserted, must first, go through arbitration before exploring the option of litigation.
“This, will not only reduce the load of cases but will also bring about speedy trials, encourage case flow management, increase investors’ confidence in the construction sector and further strengthen the economy,” he said.
Justice Onnoghen told Judges to encourage ADR mechanisms in cases that are less contentious before them to help in decongesting the courts.
He emphasised that construction law is a specialised area of the country’s legal jurisprudence and that, its development should be encouraged to enable the country to be at par with its counterparts, in view of the use of foreign aid/funding to construct the much-needed infrastructure in the country.
According to the CJN, the theme of the seminar, “Laying the foundation for effective dispute resolution in the Nigerian construction sector” is apt as it is tailored towards enlightening and broadening the horizon of Judges.
Earlier in her welcome address, the NJI administrator, Justice Rosaline Bozimo said the construction sector is distinct as it plays significant roles in the socio-economic development of the country.
She said Nigeria is undergoing incredible growth and as a result, the construction sector is facing numerous challenges ranging from archaic regulations, demand and supply, disputes in relation to claims for payment, damages due to defects in completed works and variations in contract sums due to inflation.