INVESTMENT AND SECURITIES TRIBUNAL: OBJECTIVES, FUNCTIONS AND IMPACT ON DISPUTE RESOLUTION IN THE NIGERIAN CAPITAL MARKET

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istnewlogoThe Federal Government of Nigeria set up the Dennis Odife Panel in 1995 to review the operations of the capital market to make it more investment-friendly. The adoption of the Panel’s recommendation led to the promulgation of the Investments and Securities Act (ISA) no. 45 of 1999 which repealed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Act of 1988. The ISA 1999 made provision for the establishment of an independent, specialized, fast-track court known as the Investments and Securities Tribunal [IST].

The Tribunal is mandated to adjudicate disputes and controversies arising from capital market transactions within 90 days.  The SEC also retained its power to administratively resolve complaints arising from transactions in the market, even though the decisions of SEC are subject to appeal to the IST. Under the ISA 1999, litigants may file their cases directly with IST as originating applications without recourse to SEC or any other body in the capital market or may file their cases as appeals on the decisions of the Administrative Proceedings Committee (APC) of SEC or decisions of the Nigerian Stock Exchange or other self-regulatory organizations[SROs].

The ISA 1999 was in operation until June 25, 2007, when a new law was enacted by the National Assembly to accommodate contemporary trends and new challenges in the market. Thus, the enabling law in the capital market today is the Investments and Securities Act No. 29 of 2007.

JURISDICTION

The ISA 2007 vests the IST with the status of a Federal High Court and spells out its functions in section 284.Section 93(1) & (2) of the Pension Reform Act 2004 also confers jurisdiction on the Tribunal to adjudicate appeals on pension disputes arising from the decisions of the National Pension Commission. Unlike capital market disputes in which the Tribunal has exclusive jurisdiction in certain areas, its jurisdiction over pension civil disputes is shared with an arbitration panel established under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act.

COMPOSITION

Although the law establishing the Tribunal was enacted in 1999, the Tribunal effectively came into being on December 19, 2002, when its pioneer members were formally inaugurated. Under section 275 of ISA 2007, the Tribunal is composed of ten (10) persons – a full-time Chairman, four full-time members, and five other part-time members, who shall be persons of proven ability and expertise in corporate and capital market matters. The members are experts in various aspects of capital market operation such as capital market laws, regulations, norms and practices; hence they deploy skills and experience to resolve cases expeditiously.

QUORUM

The Tribunal is collegiate in nature, which requires that cases are settled by the members sitting together. But for the purpose of exercising the jurisdiction conferred by the Act, the quorum for the sitting of the Tribunal is at least three members; (S. 276 (1), ISA 2007). The tribunal sometimes sits in panels of three with each Presiding Chairman being a lawyer, thereby enthroning an aggressive and efficient case flow management.

EXPEDITIOUS SETTLEMENT OF CASES

Pursuant to its mandate, the IST has facilitated speedy and affordable dispensation of justice, thereby restoring investors’ confidence, locally and internationally, in the capital market.

Through its landmark decisions and judgments, IST has added judicial flavour to corporate governance. It has settled  cases with monetary claims worth about N390 billion.

COURT AUTOMATION

Court proceedings at IST are automated with electronic verbatim recording systems which enable transcripts of proceedings to be obtained within two days.

LAW REPORTS

The Tribunal’s judgments are published in the Nigerian Investments and Securities Law Reports [INISLR] now in its 8th volume.

IST ADR CENTRE

The Tribunal operates another window of conflict resolution known as Investments and Securities Tribunal Alternative Dispute Resolution (ISTADR) Centre. Here, disputants are encouraged to reach amicable resolution through mediation and conciliation. This fosters mutual understanding, tolerance, confidentiality and accommodation among disputants. Settlement Agreements emanating from the Centre are enrolled as judgments of the Tribunal.

STATE DESK OFFICES

To take justice to the door steps of more investors, the Tribunal embarked on opening of Desk Offices in the High Courts of the States’ Judiciary like Awka, capital of Anambra State and Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATION & CAPACITY BUILDING

The Tribunal has been establishing global linkages for co-operation, information sharing and capacity building. In November 2005, IST organized the first ever African Regional Capital Market Training in Abuja  in collaboration with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission [US SEC], which was attended by participants from 13 African countries. The Tribunal also signed MoUs with the District of Columbia’s Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking Regulation (DISB), Washington, DC, and maintains externship and capacity building protocols with the Superior Court of New Jersey, Essex Vicinage County and the Financial Services and Markets Tribunal (FSMT), UK. The World Bank has assisted the Tribunal’s capacity building and institutional strengthening through its Economic Reform and Governance Project (ERGP) in Nigeria.

 

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