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JURISDICTION CAN BE RAISED AT ANYTIME NOT APPLICABLE TO ARBITRATION

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For instance, the general position of the law that the issue of jurisdiction of a Court can be raised at any stage of the proceedings of a case, even for the first time at the appellate stage, is not applicable to arbitral proceedings before an arbitral Tribunal because the Act, in Section 12(3) has provided the stage at which a challenge to the jurisdiction of the arbitral Tribunal is to or may be raised by a party.

– Garba, JCA. Dunlop v. Gaslink (2018)

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JURISDICTION CAN BE RAISED AT ANYTIME BY THE COURT

The law is well settled that the issue of jurisdiction is so fundamental to adjudication that it can be raised at any stage of the proceedings and even for the first time on appeal to this court. See Usman Dan Fodio University v. Kraus Thompson Ltd (2001) 15 NWLR (Pt. 736) 305; Elabanjo v. Dawodu (2006) All FWLR (Pt. 328) 604, (2006) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1001) 76 115-116 G-A ; PDP v. Okorocha (2012) All FWLR (Pt. 626) 449, (2012) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1323) 205. The issues are therefore competent before this court.

— Kekere-Ekun, JSC. Nyesom v. Peterside (SC.1002/2015 (REASONS), 12 Feb 2016)

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JURISDICTION CAN BE RAISED AT ANYTIME – IT SHOULD BE RAISED EARLIER

The issue of jurisdiction is fundamental and the law is trite that it can be raised by a party at any stage of courts’ proceedings, even at the level of the Supreme Ccourt. See Francis Durwode v. State 2000 15 NWLR part 691 page 467, Otukpo v. John 2000 8 NWLR part 669 page 507. It is however ideal that it be raised at the earliest stage of proceedings to avoid unnecessary waste of time, which the defendant has done in the instant case.

— A.M. Mukhtar, JSC. Adetona & Ors. v Igele (2011) – SC.237/2005

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IMPORTANCE OF PUTTING GOOD REPRESENTATION IN ARBITRAL PROCEEDINGS BY PARTIES

587. Notwithstanding Nigeria’s allegations, I have not found Nigeria’s lawyers in the Arbitration to be corrupt. But the case has shown examples where legal representatives did not do their work to the standard needed, where experts failed to do their work, and where politicians and civil servants failed to ensure that Nigeria as a state participated properly in the Arbitration. The result was that the Tribunal did not have the assistance that it was entitled to expect, and which makes the arbitration process work. And Nigeria did not in the event properly consider, select and attempt admittedly difficult legal and factual arguments that the circumstances likely required. Even without the dishonest behaviour of P&ID, Nigeria was compromised. 588. But what is an arbitral tribunal to do? The Tribunal in the present case allowed time where it felt it could and applied pressure where it felt it should. Perhaps some encouragement to better engagement can be seen as well. Yet there was not a fair fight. And the Tribunal took a very traditional approach. But was the Tribunal stuck with what parties did or did not appear to bring forward? Could and should the Tribunal have been more direct and interventionist when it was so clear throughout the Arbitration that Nigeria’s lawyers were not getting instructions, or when at the quantum hearing Nigeria’s then Leading Counsel, Chief Ayorinde, was failing to put necessary points to experts to test their opinion and Nigeria’s own experts (for whatever reason) had not done the work required? Should the Tribunal have taken the initiative to encourage exploration of new bounds of contract law and the law of damages that may today be required where major long term contracts are involved?

— R. Knowles CBE. FRN v. Process & Industrial Developments Limited [2023] EWHC 2638 (Comm)

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FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT CLAIM HINGED ON SUBJECT MATTER OUTSIDE FHC JURISDICTION, THE FHC LACKS JURISDICTION

The Supreme Court in ADETONA V. IGELE GENERAL ENTERPRISES LTD. (2011) 7 NWLR (PT. 1247) PG 542 at page 543 held: “Where a person’s fundamental right is breached, being breached or about to be breached, that person may apply under Section 46(1) to the Judicial Division of the Federal High Court in the State or the High Court of the State or that of the Federal Capital Territory in which the breach occurred or is occurring or about to occur. This is irrespective of whether the right involved comes within the legislative competence of the Federation, or the State or the Federal Capital Territory. However it should be noted that the exercise of this jurisdiction by the Federal High Court is where the fundamental right threatened or breached falls within the enumerated matters on which that Court has jurisdiction. Thus, fundamental rights arising from matters outside its jurisdiction cannot be enforced by the Federal High Court.”

Furthermore, the Supreme Court in the most explicit terms interpreted Section 46(2) of the Constitution at P.564, para. E; F, thus: “On Jurisdiction of the Federal and State High Court over action for enforcement of fundamental rights – A High Court of a State lacks Jurisdiction to entertain matters on Fundamental Rights, although brought pursuant to Section 46(2) of the Constitution, where the alleged breach arose from a transaction or subject matter which falls within the exclusive Jurisdiction of the Federal High Court as provided by Section 251 of the Constitution.”

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ARBITRATION AGREEMENT MUST SATISFY THE NORMAL REQUIREMENT OF A CONTRACT

My Lords, every Arbitration Agreement must satisfy the normal requirement of a contract such as consensus, capacity and legal relationship. Like any other contract, the terms must be clear and certain. The Court would, however, lean towards a construction that will give effect to the intentions of the parties. Thus, where a contract contained an arbitration clause which merely reads “Arbitration if any, by the I.C.C. Rules of London”, the Court held that the words “if any” which were the basis of the opposition were either surplusage or abbreviation for “if any dispute arises” and therefore sufficient. See MANGISTAURAUNAIGAZ OIL PRODUCTION ASSOCIATION v. UNITED WORLD TRADE INC. (1995) LLYOD’S REP. 617. There must also be a valid underlying substantive contract in existence and an arbitration agreement the terms of which are certain and enforceable. The essence of the arbitration agreement is to refer disputes arising between parties to arbitration. The words by which the reference is made must therefore be clear and express, as an inference will not be implied. So also, what is referred must be clearly and sufficiently stated to ensure that jurisdiction is conferred on the arbitrator.

— H.M. Ogunwumiju, JSC. UBA v Triedent Consulting Ltd. (SC.CV/405/2013, July 07, 2023)

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