Resolving Disputes in the Power Sector- the ‘New Kid on the Block’

Originally written by: Ivie Ehanmo (Electricity Lawyer | Legal, Policy and Regulatory Transformation Expert | Energy Law Expert)

The Making and Evolution of an Electricity Market: Unpacking the Nigerian Electricity Bill, 2021
In the ninth part and final part of the multi-part series, the innovative dispute resolution mechanisms as contained within the Bill are highlighted alongside the implications for the industry.

Key Takeaways
Ø  Whilst the creation of the Tribunal is commendable, adequate institutional capacity with a high level of autonomy is essential to resolve disputes within the power sector. The level of influence by the Minister must be intentionally minimised for fair and balanced resolution of disputes.

Ø Ideally, the Tribunal should be either an ad hoc or permanent entity affiliated with neither the government nor the sector regulator and should be constituted/called on to provide a decision or opinion on a dispute. The Chilean experience affords useful lessons that Nigeria can adopt as ‘expert panels’ in Chile appear to have been effective in resolving regulatory conflicts and other forms of disputes. Chile established expert panels as part of its regulatory regime to promote private sector participation in several of its regulated industries including power. The Chilean Electricity Law was amended in 2004, partly to modernise the mechanism for resolving regulatory disputes. It is worthy to note that the decisions of the panel are binding, thus strengthening its power of conflict resolution.

Ø Remote/Virtual hearings as proposed by the Bill; though commendable, requires robust technological tools and applications for seamless hearings and appeal processes.

Ø Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms should be encouraged by the Tribunal for speedy dispensation and settlement of issues, with hearings by the Tribunal as a fall back option in the event parties are unable to resolve disputes amicably.

Ø For the attainment of fairness, the Tribunal should not be the final arbiter in its own case by reviewing its decisions and/or setting aside its decisions/orders.

Ø For expert panels or tribunals to function effectively in the Nigerian context, there is an urgent need for a judicial review of the laws and regulations within the NESI, which the Electricity Bill affords a golden opportunity.

Read more in the Policy Brief here:

Source: LinkedIn

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