The Role Of The National Industrial Court In Industrial Dispute Resolution In Nigeria Pt.2
Observations on the National Industrial Court under the TDA as amended by the Trade Disputes (Amendment) Act 1992 (Decree No.47 of 1992).
First of all, as a product of an interventionist policy in both the economic and labour spheres, the NIC was generally structured in a regimented and compartmentalized labour disputes resolution regime with circumscribed ministerial discretion. For instance, only in a few cases could the jurisdiction of the NIC be activated by the disputants themselves
without recourse to the Minister of Labour. In the majority of cases, the jurisdiction of the NIC was activated only upon a referral from the Minister of Labour. Indeed, in the words of Rule 13 of the National Industrial Court Rules, cap T8 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, a trade dispute “shall be commenced by reference from the Minister”.
THE PRESENT DAY NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT AND ITS PLACE UNDER THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL
COURT ACT, 2006 (REFERRED TO AS NICA 2006)
The circle of Trade Disputes resolution mechanism in Nigeria will be an in-complete metamorphosis without going through the history of the new National Industrial Court.
Features of the NICA, 2006, include;
Establishment of the Court:
Section 1(1) of the Act provides and 1 quotes:
“There is established a court to be known as the National Industrial Court (in this Act referred to as “the Court”).
Status of the Court
“The Court shall be a superior court of record”.
Appointment of the President and Judges of the Court.
Section 2(1) “The President of the Court shall be appointed by the President, on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council Appointment of the President and Judges of the Court.
Section 2(1) “The President of the Court shall be appointed by the President, on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, subject to confirmation by the Senate”
Section 2(2) “The appointment of a person to the office of a Judge of the Court shall be made by the President on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council” Saving Provisions
Section 2(7) “Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (1), (2), (3) and (4) of this section, any person holding the office of the President or ordinary member of the Court immediately before the commencement of this Act shall be deemed to have been appointed under this Act”.
Tenure of office of the President and Judges of the Court
Section 3 “The provisions in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 relating to the tenure, removal, gratuity and pension of any person holding or appointed to act in the office of the Chief Judge or Judge of the Federal High Court, shall respectively apply to any person holding or appointed to act in the office of the President of the Court or as a Judge of the Court.
Section 4(2) “The President of the Court shall rank equal with the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court or the Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, in precedence and the Judges of the Court shall, in like manner, rank with the Judges of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja”.
Salaries and Emoluments of the President and the Judges of the Court.
Section 5(1)(a) “There shall be paid to the President of the Court, such salaries, emoluments and allowances as are payable to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court or of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja” and
Section 5(1)(b) “a Judge of the Court, such salaries, emoluments and allowances are payable to a Judge of the Federal High Court of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja”.
Payment to be made from Consolidated Revenue Fund
Section 5(2) “Any amount payable under this section shall be charged and paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation in accordance with section 81(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999”.
Power of Transfer of Cases
For purpose of clarity section 24(2) of NICA provides:
“No cause or matter shall be stuck out by the Court merely on the ground that such cause or matter was taken in the Court instead of the Federal High Court or the High Court of a state or of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in which it ought to have been brought and the Court before whom such cause or matter is brought may cause such cause or matter to be transferred to the appropriate Federal High Court or the High Court of a State or of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in accordance with Rules of Court to be made under Section 36 of this Act.”
See also section 24(3) of NICA:
“Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any enactment or law, no cause or matter shall be struck out by the Federal High Court or the High Court of a State or of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on the ground that such cause or matter was not brought in the appropriate Court in which it ought to have been brought and the Court before whom such cause or matter is brought may cause such cause or matter to be transferred to the appropriate Judicial Division of the Court in accordance with such rules of court as may be force in that High Court or made under any enactment or law empowering the making of rules of court generally which enactment or law shall be virtue of this subsection be deemed also to include the power to make rules of court for the purposes of this subsection”.
It is my view that this power is complimentary rather than rivalry. The National Industrial Court is vested with exclusive jurisdiction to handle matters under section 7 of NICA (National Industrial Court Act)
IN CONCLUSION, I will write on the roles of the National Industrial Court;
THE ROLE OF THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT
The National Industrial Court has both original and appellate jurisdiction in civil matters but it has no criminal jurisdiction except on matter of contempt of its orders. See section 10 of the NICA (National Industrial Court Act).
The jurisdiction of the NIC is governed by Section 7 of NICA. The section provides that –
(1) The court shall have and exercise exclusive jurisdiction in civil causes and matters-
(a). relating to –
(i). labour, including trade unions and industrial relations; and
(ii). environment and conditions of work, health, safety and welfare of labour and matters incidental thereto; and
(b). relating to the grant of any order to restrain any person or body from taking part in any strike, lock-out or any industrial action, or any conduct in contemplation or in furtherance of a strike, lock-out or any industrial action;
(c). relating to the determination of any question as to the interpretation of –
(i). any collective agreement,
(ii). any award made by an arbitral in respect of a labour dispute or an organizational dispute.
(iii). the terms of settlement of any labour dispute, organizational dispute as may be recorded in any memorandum of settlement.
(iv). any trade union constitution, and
(v). any award or judgment of the Court.
(2). The National Assembly may by an Act confer such additional jurisdiction on the Court in respect of such other causes or matters incidental, supplementary or related to those set out in subsection (1) of this section.
(3). Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Act or any other enactment or law, the National Assembly may by an Act prescribe that any matter under subsection (1) (a) of this section may go through the process of conciliation or arbitration before such matter is heard by the Court.
(4). An appeal shall lie from the decisions of an arbitral tribunal to the Court as of right in matters of disputes specified in subsection (1) (a) of this section.
(5). For the purposes of subsection (4) of this section, a party to an arbitral award shall be entitled to obtain a copy of the records of the arbitral proceedings and the award from the arbitral tribunal.
(6). The Court shall, in exercising its jurisdiction or any of the powers conferred upon it by this Act or any other enactment or law, have due regard to good or international best practice in labour or industrial relations and what amounts to good or international best practice in labour or industrial relations shall be a question of fact. See Section 7(6) of NICA, 2006.
The intendment of the law makers to confer exclusive jurisdiction on NIC is to have a specialized Court that will handle matters under item 34 of the Exclusive Legislative List of the Constitution which the National Assembly has power to legislate upon.
Mayowa Emmanuel Olukehinde Esq.