LAWPAVILION OPENS EXPERIENCE CENTRES IN LAGOS AND ABUJA – INTEGRATES AFCFTA DISPUTE SETTLEMENT PROCEDURE INTO SOLICITORS AND ARBITRATORS’ TOOLKIT
Nigeria’s leading legal technologies company, LawPavilion Business Solutions Limited has scored another first, demonstrating its uncanny ability to equip Nigerian and African lawyers with cutting-edge solutions, in order to compete successfully in the provision of legal services in Nigeria and across the continent.
Briefing the press in Lagos, the Managing Director of LawPavilion Business Solutions Limited, Mr. Ope Olugasa, stated that the company has keenly observed and followed the deliberations on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which has the primary objective of enhancing intra-Africa trade, thus promoting accelerated economic integration of the African continent.
The AfCFTA, which Nigeria became a signatory to in July 2019, has significant importance for Nigeria especially, particularly in view of the fact that Nigeria with an estimated population of 200 million people, represents the largest economy in Africa, and therefore has the potential of being the biggest benefactor of the AfCFTA, if well executed and implemented. As related to legal services, Mr Olugasa drew attention to the staggering statistics that between 70% – 80% of the high-end legal services consumed in Africa is provided by law firms and lawyers in Europe and North America, leaving African lawyers to scramble for the remaining 20-30%. He stated that one of the difficulties that has beleaguered the provision of excellent and efficient legal services in Africa is the inadequacy of the type of capacity needed to compete with Law firms in London, New York or Paris.
Finding a lasting solution to this difficulty is one of the main drivers of the innovations pioneered by LawPavilion. With access to a market of about 1.2 billion people, the potentials for doing business is mind-boggling and requires new ways of thinking and being properly equipped to promptly, efficiently and comprehensively provide the legal services that will be required as a direct result of the successful implementation of the AfCFTA, which seeks to liberalize trade of goods and services across the Continent. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), successful implementation of the AfCFTA could boost intra-Africa trade by as much as 52% by 2022 as local productivity, supported by appropriate policies would be exponentially boosted and increased.
Speaking further, Mr Olugasa drew attention that, particularly for Nigerian lawyers, it is instructive to note that the Protocol on Rules and Procedure on the Settlement of Disputes, in Article 27, prescribes arbitration as one of the dispute settlement mechanism that can be adopted by Member-States of the AfCFTA in the resolution of disputes.
He mentioned that recent statistics based on 2018 UNCTAD statistics, revealed that African countries are parties in about 101 Investor-State Dispute (ISD) cases at international arbitral tribunals. Yet, it is glaring that a greater percentage of African lawyers do not have enough exposure or expertise to handle cases at international arbitral tribunals.
It is thus, as a first step towards equipping Nigerian and African lawyers to respond and rise up to the future of liberalized legal services that LawPavilion has developed and is now showcasing its newest solution – The Solicitors and Arbitrators’ Toolkit (SAT). The SAT, together with LawPavilion’s Practice Management Software, boasts of a Document Authoring and Management platform, which provides access to hundreds of customizable Forms and Precedents, Court Forms and Insight Notes on various practice areas.
Moreover, with the introduction of electronic filing at the Supreme Court, and the foreseeability that any arbitral tribunal set up under the AfCFTA will leverage significantly on electronic filings, robust document management and correspondence, it is more imperative than ever for Nigerian lawyers to get aboard. LawPavilion’s Case Manager, which is integrated with LawPavilion’s patented Artificial Intelligence tool – TIMI, and legal research software, LawPavilion Prime, creates a robust tool for the lawyer who is ready to bring his legal practice to the future of trade in goods and services.
With the sole objective of deploying the latest technologies to enhance the capacity of legal practitioners for them to compete favourably in the international scene, LawPavilion is demonstrating the unique value proposition of their new and enhanced offerings by setting up Experience Centers in its Lagos and Abuja offices and invites legal practitioners for a hands-on experience.
LawPavilion will host top-notch legal practitioners on the 9th and 16th of August 2019 at their Lagos Experience Center, and in Abuja on the 21st of August 2019.
According to Mr Olugasa, it is of utmost importance that Nigerian lawyers are equipped to provide legal services in respect of Investor-State disputes as well as State to State dispute, in order to forestall a situation where other sectors are able to sufficiently capitalize and take advantage of the emerging opportunities afforded by the implementation of AfCFTA, while Nigerian lawyers continue to grapple with meagre earnings occasioned by inadequate capacity to provide requisite legal services.