To save time and mitigate the cost of litigation in enforcing statutory regulatory standards for products and services in Nigeria, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), may soon deploy Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms in resolving disputes.
Although the general provisions in the new SON Act has empowered the agency to prosecute perpetrators of substandard products manufacture, importation and distribution while also providing stiffer penalties for convictions including jail terms, the agency is exploring alternative measures at resolving conflicts other than litigation where necessary.
The Director-General of SON, Osita Aboloma, while speaking at a mediation and arbitration training for its staff stated the agency was empowering them with skills to handle conflicts that may arise from complaints handling, market survey and stakeholder engagements among others.
According to him, the move became necessary in order to enhance service delivery by the agency and voluntary adoption and compliance to stipulated standards by stakeholders’.
Aboloma said his agency was strengthening its internal mechanisms to combat substandard products head on and urged all Nigerians to join hands with SON in order to create greater opportunities for genuine and certified locally manufactured products to thrive.
The DG pledged his total commitment to protecting the lives and properties of Nigerians as well its economy using the instruments of standardisation and quality assurance.
The President, Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators of Nigeria (ICMC), Emeka Obegolu, said the training will help SON achieve its objectives in its transactions with stakeholders and customers.
He explained that communication is key in mediation and conciliation, adding that successful participants will be inducted into the membership of the institute after the training.
Giving an overview of ADR mechanisms, Director, Marketing (ICMC), Chiddy Martins, said a lot of civil cases in the courts linger for too long because a party has chosen to uphold its ego when such cases could have been resolved using alternative measures.
“ADR provides relief to frustrations that litigants face when resolving civil disputes using litigation. It helps to address delay, prohibitive costs, congestion in courts, unsatisfactory determination of cases, ruined relationships and lack of confidence by investors,” he added.
He then urged SON to explore ADR measures in settling disputes in order to promote economic diversification and enhance the ease of doing business