Who exactly is an ADR Registrar/Secretary?

In 2018, the Dispute Resolution Centre of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DRC-ACCI), in collaboration with the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC), introduced the training on ADR Registry/Secretarial Services.

As the Training & Communications Officer of ICMC and one of the officers coordinating the training, I receive a good number of enquiries as regards the training along the lines of; “Will this training qualify me for appointment as a Registrar of a Court of Law?”, “I am in full-time litigation practice. Will this affect my job?”, “I’ve never heard of an ADR Secretary before, can you tell me about it?”, “I’m already a member of ICMC, what do I need this certification for?”, “I’m not a member of ICMC, can I still participate in this course?”, “Once I get the certificate, will you appoint me?”, “Chimdimma, I want to resolve disputes, I want to manage the process, why are you trying to reduce me to secretarial services?”. The questions are endless really, and as an Institute we appreciate every call, text or email we receive. However, in some way these enquiries all boil down to one question; Who exactly is an ADR Registrar/Secretary?

The motivation behind this article is to answer this question, and go further to explain why registering for this training is a good step for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) practitioners and individuals looking to enter into ADR practice.

An ADR Registrar/Secretary is an individual who is tasked with handling administrative duties for the duration of Arbitration, Mediation, Conciliation, and other ADR proceedings. They are often referred to as either ADR Registrars or ADR Secretaries.

Out of all the ADR mechanisms, I must say the use of ADR Registrars/Secretaries is most prominent in Arbitration; hence the term “Arbitral Registrars/Secretaries”.

Although ADR Registrars/Secretaries are not part of the tribunal of Neutrals in the proceedings, they play a rather important role. These individuals assist the Neutrals in ensuring the smooth-running of the proceedings. This assistance may amount to handling scheduling, taking notes, and such other administrative tasks.

Although this area of ADR practice is largely neglected compared to others, it is a skill that will be useful to all ADR practitioners, especially those with little or no practice experience. This is a good entryway into ADR practice. For instance, say you are a certified Arbitrator but in the years since successfully completing your training and obtaining certification, you have had no opportunity to practice. By serving as an ADR Registrar/Secretary in arbitral proceedings, you have the unique opportunity to understudy more experienced Arbitrators and get yourself acquainted with how the process works. With time, if you are diligent enough, you will be able to conduct Arbitration on your own.

This goes for other ADR mechanisms as well, ADR Registry/Secretarial Services is not limited to Arbitration. Article 8 of the Conciliation Rules contained in the Third Schedule of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, Cap 18, LFN 2004, makes provision for Administrative Assistance, which includes but is not limited to ADR Registry/Secretarial Services.

For those with full-time jobs, I would like to remind you that one of the defining features and advantages of ADR is its flexibility; meaning with the consent of all parties involved, you can schedule your sessions taking your office hours into consideration. If you choose, you can schedule your ADR proceedings to hold in the evenings or during the weekends.

As a professional, irrespective of your discipline, it is always in your best interest to acquire additional skills and improve your capacity. According to Rachael Osibu, FICMC, MCIArb (UK), a highly experienced ADR Registrar/Secretary, you can never over-emphasize the importance of the openness to learn and the need to sharpen your soft skills.

For registration for the ADR Registry/Secretarial Services Training of ICMC and DRC-ACCI and/further enquiries, kindly send a mail to icmctrainings@gmail.com

If you need an in-road into ADR practice, or you are already an active ADR practitioner looking develop your skills in other practice areas, then this course is for you.

By Chimdimma Onyedebelu

Training & Communications Officer, ICMC

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