maritime litigation

Reference to Lloyds Law Reports in local maritime arbitration may soon be relegated to the background following the release of a set of six volumes of Admiralty Law Reports of Nigeria (ALRN), which is a collection of all the judgments on admiralty matters from the Federal High Court (FHC) to the Supreme Court.

ALRN, according to the editor and maritime lawyer, Mrs. Jean-Chiazor Anishere, would make case judgments easily “reachable instruments for Maritime Law practitioners and judges as reference materials for the effective and efficient preparation of their cases and adjudication of same.”

She explained at the presentation of the book in Lagos that it became necessary to collate the plethora of admiralty judgments by Nigerian courts of competent jurisdiction to aid judges in their understanding of Admiralty Law Practice, which is a specialised field due to its international flavour.

Anishere, who was the immediate past president of Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA), said the work, which was presented in honour of the former FHC President, late Justice Frederick Ayaegbunam, would be assembled half yearly or quarterly to have more and future judgments on admiralty matters in six sets.

“Admiralty Law and Practice has come to stay in Nigeria,” she stated. “This new era, we hope, will help us do away with our dependence on foreign judgments as reported in Lloyds Law Reports, among others, but simply refer to them as comparative, where and if necessary.
“It is also respectfully hoped that these publications will spur our honourable judges in writing fine judgments on admiralty matters that will stand the test of time and, most importantly, be comparable with their counterpart English judgments.

“My travels and study have shown me that ‘we, Nigerians,’ set the pace in Africa, even in admiralty matters. I am convinced that these judgments will also be referred to as judicial precedents in other African countries where Admiralty Law and Practice is evinced, hence these publications.”

She commended the late Justice Ayaegbunam for ensuring that admiralty practice is anchored in the FHC,” then known as the Federal Revenue Court during his tenure

Commending the work as ideal and timely, one of the eminent jurists at the event, Justice Rosaline Ukeje (rtd), recalled that Justice Ayaegbunam would always task them (judges) to leave the FHC better than they met it, and would query things not done well, though have no apologies for not commending when things are well done.

Also acknowledged were Mr. Louis Nnamdi Mbanefo (SAN), who had done the collation up till 1998, and Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), who were mentors in the maritime law practice, just as Mr. Jimi Adubu (SAN) commended Ayaegbunam for instilling standard in the appearance and comportment of lawyers and judges.

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