Although, it is trite that Arbitral proceedings shall be terminated by the final Arbitral Award in which the Court becomes functus officio. Arbitral Proceedings can also be terminated by an order of the Tribunal, which order can only be passed when the Claimant withdraws the claim or when the parties agree on the termination of the proceedings or when the Tribunal finds that continuation of proceedings has become unnecessary or impossible.
Section 272 (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended) provides, and His Lordship per Sanusi, J.S.C reiterated same that a party may approach the lower court to exercise its powers of judicial review which is both conferred and inherent in the Court in the case MTN (NIG) COMM. LTD V. HANSON (2017) 18 NWLR (PT. 1598), 394 AT 414-415, PARAS H-B.
Thus, in a scenario where Counsel to the Respondent submits that the Arbitrator having decided on the issue of an amount which the Appellant was entitled to under a Consultancy Agreement, that all parties are estopped from re-litigating the issue and the Appellant is therefore not entitled to have the issue re-litigated by the Arbitral Tribunal is unfounded.
Section 27 (3), 28 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 2004 empowers the Arbitral Tribunal to re-open or review its award.
What is more, Section 29 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 2004 enabled the aggrieved party to apply for a review of the award by the Tribunal. Section 29 (3) specifically provides;
“(3) The Court before which an application is brought under subsection 1 of this section may, at the request of a party where appropriate, suspend proceedings for such period as it may determine to afford the arbitral tribunal an opportunity to resume the arbitral proceedings or take such other action to eliminate the grounds for setting aside of the award.”
It is, therefore, a misconception of the combined effect of the provisions of the above-stated Sections of the Act, and imperative for Counsel to apply the literal rule in the circumstance.