CJN lauds Bar and Bench House over ADR facilities

February 20th, 2018

*Charges Law Firms to Embrace ADR Services
By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Hon. Justice Walter N. S. Onnoghen has commended the management and staff of Bar and Bench Publishers for fostering the entrenchment of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in the country.
Meanwhile, he also disclosed that the Nigerian Law School (NLS) would send students on Law Office Externship Programmes to only law firms with Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) facilities for their chambers attachment, adding that it had become necessary for law firms in the country to make provisions for ADR mechanism as a way of promoting peace and harmony in the society.
He was speaking on Monday at the inauguration of the Bar and Bench House, a law firm in Abuja.
Represented by Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Hon. Justice Ishaq Bello, the CJN noted that the adversarial system of resolving conflicts was no longer fashionable, and that, “People are now moving away from adversarial system of dispute resolution to Alternative Dispute Resolution as it promotes peace and harmony in the society.”
“The Law School should only send students to law firms with ADR facilities like we have seen in this edifice of the Bar and Bench House,” Justice Onnoghen said.
In his address, Onnoghen lauded the principal partner of the Bar and Bench House/Publishers, Chief Ogwu Onoja (SAN), for erecting a “world-class edifice” as well as providing training resources for both judges and lawyers.
“This edifice represents a congenial atmosphere for judges and lawyers. It represents world-class in terms of standards. Chief Onoja’s calmness represents diligence and high sense of articulation.
“The Bar and Bench House is a meeting point for judges and lawyers, and we will seek the firm’s collaboration in the training of lawyers,” Justice Onnoghen disclosed.
Speaking on behalf of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN), Mr. Israel Olorundare (SAN), commended Chief Onoja, whose 50th birthday coincided with the inauguration of the building, for the “huge investment he has made in furtherance of legal jurisprudence in Nigeria.”
In his Welcome address, the celebrant, Chief Onoja revealed that the Bar and Bench Publishers Limited was incorporated by legal minds in his law firm, O.J. Onoja & Associates to engage in the printing and publishing of legal materials and provision of training resources for judges and legal practitioners.
“In furtherance of these objectives, the organisation has invested in human, legal and material resources which efforts culminated in the publishing of many research materials and law books namely: ‘Supreme Court Rules: Practice and Procedure,’ ‘Court of Appeal Rules: Practice and Procedure’ and ‘Federal High Court Rules: Practice and Procedure.”
He further disclosed that assets were mobilised to build the Bar and Bench House “to accommodate all the editors, counsel and staff and to bring into one arena, some of the best in physical, legal and intellectual resources accessible to enhance legal service delivery in the areas of publications and litigation.”
In recounting the significance of the occasion, the SAN said the day marked a decade of the existence of Bar and Bench as well as his 50th birthday.
He declared the firm’s loyalty and partnership with the CJN in providing legal resources and materials that will enhance effective and efficient justice delivery in the country, while thanking the head of the country’s judiciary for what he called “the reform agenda being implemented by the CJN,” adding that it has “enthroned integrity” amongst judges and lawyers.
Onoja expressed concerns over what he termed “archaic laws of antiquities in our statutes book.”
“These laws are not only prejudicial to effective justice system, they are contrary to good reason and conscience. There are anachronistic and abandoned legal relics in our statutes books begging for repeal by the parliament.”
He identified such laws to include, “Sections 84, 97 and 99 of the Sheriffs and Civil Procedure Act which is a colonial law enacted in 1945.” He stressed that Section 84 of the Act is very annoying as it requires the judgment creditor to obtain the consent of the Attorney General of the Federation before execution of judgment vide garnishee proceedings.
The jurist also identified the requirement for special endorsements of writs of summons to be served outside jurisdiction and giving the defendants 30 days to enter appearance pursuant to Sections 97 and 99 of the Act as “sadistic and regrettable.”
He explained: “While these provisions were reasonable laws in 1945 when it was enacted in view of the toiling distance a litigant would have to undertake either by foot or horse from one state/region to another. These days we travel by planes, faster cars and court processes are filed and served electronically. The 30 days’ requirement causes delay in hearing of cases and leads to waste of time in applications for abridgment of time.”
Concluding, the learned Senior Advocate called on the judiciary to use the instrumentality of “judicial activism to bring to a desired and deserved end.”
A tour of the building revealed law offices for counsel and editors, law library services, training/arbitration hall, conference rooms, lawyers’ restaurant, sports arena and Internet facilities among others.
The event was graced by Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Chief Olusola Oke (SAN), Okon Effion (SAN), Abdul Ibrahim (SAN) and a representative of the NBA President, Mr A.B. Mahmoud (SAN)

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