BY MARTINS UBA NWAMADI
In 1995, the Nigerian Shippers Council in pursuit of knowledge and excellence, in conjunction with the National Judicial Institute (NJI), stunned the Nigerian maritime community with a world-class identity known as the Seminary International Maritime for Judges (IMSJ). The conceptual framework of the Maritime Seminar for Judges was not only to redefine the huge gaping gap and deficit of our Admiralty Justice System in Nigeria, but also to create a sustainable and user-friendly environment for maritime operators to develop the local content while providing global commerce best practices. facilitation.
As we enter an era of open door economic policy, trade liberalization and the emergence of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTFA) with various economic and trade agreements among nations, the need to develop laws that will bring optimism in the discharge of related cases cannot be overstated.
Maritime law is complex and is a highly specialized but commercially important area of law with which magistrates, maritime law practitioners and other stakeholders should become familiar with on a regular basis. The seminar, given its impact in society, created a forum for discussion, debate and cross-fertilization of ideas on important maritime issues among participants from different parts of the world.
It is in pursuit of this quest that from Tuesday July 5 to Thursday July 7, 2022, international legal scholars, Supreme Court Justices from Nigeria and parts of Africa, as well as notable maritime lawyers, will gather at Abuja for the 16th edition of the seminar.
According to Emmanuel Jime, Barrister and Executive Secretary/CEO of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, the seminar is primarily aimed at updating the knowledge of Judges and Superior Court Judges of Records, Lawyers and others operating within the maritime industry on contemporary issues and developments in maritime law and practice
As Nigeria’s international trade is growing significantly, more and more maritime cases, especially in the area of shipping, are being brought to court for adjudication. The fact that most archival superior court judges were not taught maritime law in school made it difficult for judges to deal with the ever more complex and dynamic maritime law cases before them for judgment. The judges then had to carry out rigorous and criminal research in order to fully grasp the facts of the cases brought before them. But the seminar totally changed this perspective and contributed enormously to the development of maritime law in Nigeria.
Secondly, the seminar has also greatly contributed to the reduction of the delays in which maritime cases are decided by the courts. In fact, it has also resulted in huge savings for the Nigerian business community who until now had their cases stuck in court for months. According to lawyer Jime, this year’s edition promises to be exciting, engaging and enlightening given that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the 2020 edition.
Some of the thought-provoking topics and seminal articles to the fore are “Enforcement of Torts and Bonds in Bills of Lading Contracts,” which will be presented by Olumide Sofowora, a Senior Solicitor from Nigeria (SAN); “Current Issues in Port Operations (Standard Operating Procedure) in Ports and Related Legal Issues”; “Nigeria Customs Electronic Wine Valuation Method, Issues Raised”; ‘Current Issues in Arbitration and Maritime Practice’; ‘Alternate Dispute Resolution and Arbitration’ by Adedoyin Rhodes–Vivour, also SAN; “Use of Technology in Maritime Dispute Resolution”; while Luke Zadkovich, an international lawyer based in New York, will address the topic “International Law and Practice on Crew Wages”.
Sharing his view on the gains of the International Maritime Seminar for Judges, the former Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council who has seen it all from conception to the 15th edition, Advocate Hassan Bello attests that Nigeria and some African countries have benefited immensely from the series of seminars. The seminar played a key role in the adoption of the Hamburg Rules as an international transport regime governing the maritime transport of goods to and from Nigeria; review of the Merchant Shipping Act, regulation of cargo shipping practices in Nigeria, massive reforms in seaports including concessioning of ports, appointment of the Nigerian Shippers Council as the “economic regulator for ports and the amendment of the Admiralty Jurisdiction Act (AJA) are some of the achievements so far. All of these have improved tremendously in the shipping industry and also brought a positive image to Nigeria as a global shipping country.
On his expectations for this year’s edition, Bello, who is one of the cerebral maritime lawyers in the country, believes that with the array of contemporary topics lined up, this edition will further delve into the Admiralty Justice System in Nigeria given maritime strategic position occupies in our national economy.
Martins Nwamadia media professional, has a keen interest in maritime affairs.