Woman Market Seller, Lagos, Nigeria ©

Nick Cavanagh/Nigeria Justice for All Programme

A better business regulatory environment increases investment and economic growth. However, currently it takes businesses 511 days and 36.3% of the value of a claim to resolve a commercial dispute through the Nigerian courts (World Bank Group’s 'Doing Business in Nigeria' report, 2010). 

Many commercial disputes are resolved informally through business associations. The poor system for commercial dispute resolution deters foreign and domestic investors.

Our aim

  • Improve Nigeria’s business environment to encourage investment from foreign and domestic investors
  • Broaden business legislation to empower the poor, especially women
  • Improve access to speedier, less costly settlement of commercial dispute
  • Develop more viable options for commercial dispute resolution, including alternative dispute resolution (ADR)
  • Improve the quality of laws relating to economic activity, development and growth
  • Expand the range and availability of commercial dispute resolution mechanisms and improve the speed, cost and quality of those mechanisms
  • Encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution options as a cost effective and friendly option for resolving commercial disputes, particularly for small businesses

Our approach

  • Supporting the review and development of business and investment laws
  • Mapping and assessing the strengths and weaknesses of existing alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and commercial dispute resolution (CDR) mechanisms (multi-door and fast track courts)
  • Reviewing and updating rules, procedures, laws for CDR
  • Training for staff working in CDR institutions
  • Supporting dialogue to increase public awareness on the importance of these mechanisms
  • Supporting states in which there is demand for these services to replicate best practice examples

Delivering results

Law reform

  • Federal: draft bill on insolvency submitted to Federal Ministry of Justice for review
  • Lagos: money lenders law, co-operatives law and sale by auction law reviewed and amendment bills submitted to Law Reform Commission

Fast track courts (FTC) and multi-door courthouses (MDC)

  • 37 clerks and registrars of the High Court trained on the new High Court Rules and FTC processes
  • New central registry created for the FTC for efficiency
  • MDC Lagos: 18% reduction in time it takes to dispose of cases in 2013 compared to 2012

Spotlight on gender

  • 13 female registrars (of 37) of the High Court trained on the new rules and the fast track courts processes
  • Engagment of business and membership associations (such as the automobile association, bike riders association, chambers of commerce and industry and others) to assess how their alternative dispute resolution mechanisms respond to gender issues