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LAGOS STATE MULTIDOOR COURT LAW
THE LAGOS STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY enacts as follows:
Establishment of the Lagos Multi-Door Court House
1. (1) There is established a body to be known as the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (referred to in this law as “LMDC”).
(2) The Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse shall be –
a. an independent, non-profit body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal;
b. a court-connected Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre with its offices located within the High Court of Lagos and any such other suitable locations as the Council shall approve.
Overriding Objectives of the LMDC
The objectives of the LMDC are to:
2. (a) enhance access to justice by providing alternative mechanisms to supplement litigation in the resolution of disputes;
(b) minimize citizen frustration and delays in justice delivery by providing a standard legal framework for the fair and efficient settlement of disputes through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR);
(c) serve as the focal point for the promotion of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Lagos State; and
(d) promote the growth and effective functioning of the justice system through Alternative Dispute Resolution methods.
Functions and powers of the LMDC are to:
3. (1) Apply mediation, arbitration, neutral evaluation and any other ADR mechanisms in the resolution of such disputes as may from time to time be referred to the LMDC, from the High Court of Justice, Lagos State, Courts of other jurisdictions outside Lagos State, Federal Courts, Private Persons, Corporations, public institutions and dispute resolution organizations.
(2) Encourage disputing parties to appear before the LMDC for the resolution of their disputes;
(3) Assist disputants in the resolution of their disputes and act as administrators in the conduct of ADR proceedings locally or internationally.
(4) Publicize its services by informing and sensitizing the public about its facilities.
(5) Render assistance in the conduct of ad-hoc arbitration or mediation proceedings;
(6) Encouraging disputing parties whose matters are already listed before the court for hearing to appear before the LMDC to explore settlement options.
(7) Maintain registers of suitably qualified persons to act as mediators, arbitrators or neutral evaluators.
(8) Promote or undertake projects or other activities including but not limited to the “Settlement Week” which in the opinion of the Council will further assist in decongesting the courts and help to achieve the purpose for which the LMDC was established.
4. (1) In giving effect to its overriding objectives, the LMDC shall
a. Maintain working relationship with reputable and recognized organizations including but not limited to the Citizens‟ Mediation Centre of Lagos State Ministry of Justice, towards the enhancement of its operations, services and referral of matters to the LMDC on terms and conditions agreed upon by the parties; and
b. Cause Settlement Agreement or other Memorandum of Understanding, duly signed by disputing parties, endorsed by either an ADR Judge or any other person as may be directed by the Chief Judge to become binding and enforceable by the Sheriff under-
i. Section 11 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act; or
ii. other legislation for the time being force.
(2) Any agreement reached by the parties shall be filed at the LMDC and duly registered along with all necessary attachments.
(3) Parties to such agreements shall be required to appear before the ADR Judge prior to his endorsement of the agreement or memorandum, that appearance shall be within the-
i. premises of the LMDC;
ii. open court; or
iii. Chambers of the ADR Judge.
5. (1) The overall supervision of the LMDC shall vest in the Governing Council (referred to in this law as „the Council”) and shall have the functions assigned to it by this law.
(2) The Council shall:
a. consider and approve the annual budget of the LMDC;
b. approve the remuneration and conditions of service of the staff of the LMDC
c. initiate or validate proposals to restructure and expand the LMDC;
d. foster the relationship between the LMDC and other private or Government establishments;
e. assume responsibility for existing rights, liabilities, claims and agreements entered into with regard to the LMDC, and
f. do other things as the Council may consider appropriate for the overall development and growth of the LMDC to enhance the effective administration and delivery of justice.
Appointment of Council Members
6. (1) The Chairman shall:
a. Be the Honorable Chief Judge of Lagos State.
b. Shall have power to delegate his duties as Chairman of the Governing Council to the Vice Chairman.
(2) (a) The Governing Council shall appoint one of their members as Vice-Chairman, who shall be a respected renowned professional with at least a graduate degree from a reputable university and not less than 10 years of notable practical experience in his chosen field and also relevant interest and qualifications in ADR.
(b) The Vice-Chairman shall:
a. Preside over the meetings of the Council in the absence of the Chairman; and
b. hold office for a period of three (3) years in compliance with the terms and conditions as shall be approved by the Council.
(3) The Council shall appoint a Secretary who
a. shall be a Lawyer of at least five( 5) years post Call experience; b. may be a staff of The LMDC but not a member of the Council; and
c. shall perform such duties as the Council or the Director may determine.
(4) The Secretary to the Council shall:
a. ensure that all meetings of the Council are held;
b. oversee the preparation of notices, agenda, minutes of meetings
c. take custody of the Seal; and
d. perform other duties as are necessary for the office of a Secretary to the Council.
Composition of the Council
7. (1) The Council shall consist of the following:
a. a Chairman who shall be the Chief Judge of Lagos State;
b. two ADR Judges of the High Court of Lagos State appointed by the Chief Judge;
c. the Attorney-General of Lagos State;
d. the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (to be rotated amongst the branches);
e. one representative of the Negotiation and Conflict Management Group.
f. the Director of the LMDC;
g. ne representative of the Private Sector; and
h. one person whose membership will assist with the promotion of ADR as a concept and The LMDC as an institution.
(2) The members of the Council shall not exceed nine (9) at any given time including the Chairman and Vice Chairman.
(3) The proceedings of the Council shall be in accordance with the regulations contained in the Schedule to this Law.
(4) Subject to the provisions of this Law, a person appointed to be a member of the Council shall hold office for a period of three years from the date of his appointment and shall be eligible for re-appointment for one further term of three (3) years.
(5) A person shall cease to be a member of the Council if such member by a letter addressed to the chairman of the Council resigns his appointment, or is removed under Section 8 of this Law.
Removal of members of the Council
8(1) Any member of the Council shall be removed by two-thirds majority of members of the Council after consultation and recommendation of the Chief Judge for any of the following reasons:
b. absence from meetings;
c. inability to perform the functions of his office;
d. conviction of a fraudulent act;
e. unsound mind
The Council by a majority vote shall, after consultation, with the interests (if any), represented by that member recommend to the Chief Judge that such member be removed from the Council and his office declared vacant.
(2) Subject to sub-section (1) of this section, any member who is absent from two consecutive ordinary meetings of the Council, except an ex-officio member must file his explanation in writing with the Secretary for consideration of the Council, if the explanation is not accepted by the Council, the Council shall by majority vote request the Chief Judge to declare the office of that member vacant.
The Chief Judge of Lagos State
9 (1) It shall be the responsibility of the Chief Judge of the High Court of Justice, Lagos State as the Chairman of the Governing Council to:
a. appoint the members of the Governing Council in accordance with the provisions of Section 7 of this Law;
b. receive regular updates on the activities of the LMDC from the Director of the LMDC, including reports of its financial and overall activities;
c. promote the growth and development of the LMDC including its integration within the Judicial System; and
d. make other contributions which shall enhance the activities of the LMDC and to further the overriding objectives.
The Director of The LMDC
10. (1) There shall be an officer of the LMDC to be known as the “Director” who shall be appointed by the Council.
(2) The Director shall:
a. be the Chief Executive Officer of the LMDC and shall be responsible for the overall development, promotion and administration of the LMDC;
b. be a person of good repute with wide knowledge and experience in Alternative Dispute Resolution, the Multi-Door Courthouse concept and managerial skills.
c. possess at least a first degree from a reputable university and not less than ten years of working experience with a reputable organization or institution; and
d. hold office for a term of five (5) years which may be renewable for another term of five (5) years by the Council on such terms and conditions as may be stated in the Director’s letter of appointment.
Officers of the LMDC
11. (1) The Director shall upon the approval of the Council, appoint from time to time such members of staff as may be needed for the efficient performance and actualization of the functions of the LMDC.
(2) The staff and appointed officers shall hold office in compliance with the conditions as the Council may approve from time to time.
The Deputy Director-
12. The Deputy Director shall:
a. be responsible for the management of the LMDC facilities and any other business development initiatives of the LMDC;
b. supervise the staff and other officers of the LMDC;
c. attend to the needs of clients;
d. ensure the smooth and efficient management of matters at the LMDC;
e. be responsible for the effective administration of the LMDC including the preparation of reports;
f. be responsible for other activities as shall be required by the Director to further enhance the LMDC; and g. be directly responsible to the Director
The Principal Registrar 13. The Principal Registrar shall:
1. be responsible to the Deputy Director for the day-to-day administration of The LMDC and supervise the activities of other staff of the LMDC;
2. effectively manage the dockets of The LMDC with a view to ensuring an efficient case flow management and documentation; and 3. undertake other responsibilities as may be incidental to the overall purpose of the LMDC.
14. Subject to the provisions of this Law, the Council may make or approve such staff regulations relating generally to the conditions of service of the employees of the LMDC and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, such regulations may provide for the appointment, promotion and discipline of employees of the LMDC.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Judge
15. (1) The Chief Judge shall designate and appoint not less than three (3) serving Judges of the High Court of Lagos State as ADR Judges to take responsibility for the promotion of ADR within the Judiciary.
(2) Two of the Judges so designated as ADR Judges shall be nominated as members of the Governing Council by the Chief Judge of the High Court of Justice, Lagos State.
(3) Where any of the parties to an action at the LMDC refuses or neglects to appear before the LMDC as required by this Law, the party shall be requested to appear before the ADR Judge who shall make orders and give directives as shall be considered desirable in fulfillment of the Overriding Objectives of the LMDC.
(4) ADR proceedings shall take place in the premises of the LMDC or in the regular Court of the ADR Judge.
(5) Any Settlement Agreement or Memorandum of Understanding duly signed by disputing parties shall upon being filed at the LMDC, be presented to an ADR Judge or any other judge as directed by the Chief Judge, for enforcement as Consent Judgment of the High Court of Justice, Lagos State.
Role of the Court
16. (1) It shall be the responsibility of the Judges of the High Court of Justice, Lagos State, to further the cause of ADR and give effect to the overriding objective of The LMDC by:
a. encouraging the use of the LMDC for the settlement of disputes by Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in accordance with Order… of the High Court of Lagos State Civil Procedure Rules and refer cases that are suited to ADR to the LMDC to facilitate the just and speedy disposal of such cases;
b. avoiding the assumption of the role of a mediator in the course of a pre-trial conference;
c. inquiring from parties, efforts made at ADR and examine the reasons stated for a failed attempt towards employing ADR in the resolution of disputes;
d. ensuring that parties and their counsel show proportionate and responsible behaviour in their pursuit of exploring or adopting ADR in the resolution of disputes;
e. controlling and managing proceedings in Court and issue orders which would encourage the adoption of ADR methods in dispute resolution, including the mandatory referral of parties to explore settlement at The LMDC whenever one of the parties to action in court is willing to so do;
f. adopting best known international practices and appropriate measures towards the promotion and development of an ADR consciousness among litigants and their counsel including orders as to costs and such other orders or directions as the court may consider appropriate;
g. discouraging the continuation of proceedings in Court until parties referred to The LMDC have through their counsel or by themselves confirmed submission to proceedings at the LMDC and a report has been duly filed in Court by the LMDC;
h. recognizing and giving effect to dispute resolution clauses contained in agreements between parties; and
i. ensuring the adoption and enforcement of Terms of Settlement and awards reached at The LMDC in the same manner as a Judgment or order of Court.
Role of Counsel (Lawyers)
17. (1) The responsibility of Counsel in regard to ADR is to the Court, the LMDC and the Legal Profession in promoting a better and more efficient justice delivery system.
(2) Counsel has a duty to expose clients to alternative methods of dispute resolution and explore with them the most appropriate mechanism in the resolution of matters brought before them;
(3) Counsel shall:
a. give due consideration and support to suggestions, orders and directives from the courts for an amicable settlement or the referral of on-going matters to the LMDC;
b. give regard and ensure clients accord respect to notices, invitations and directives from The LMDC; and
c. further the cause of ADR and give effect to the overriding objectives of The LMDC.
Role of Parties
18. (1) Disputing parties have a responsibility to the LMDC and to the ADR process and are to cooperate with officers of the LMDC in the administration of their dispute.
(2) Parties shall:
a. consider seriously the possibility of ADR procedures for resolving their claims or issues when encouraged to do so by the Court, their Counsel or the LMDC.
b. initiate the resolution of an on-going dispute through ADR and have due regard to notices and directives from the LMDC;
c. ensure personal attendance at ADR Sessions and where the party is a corporation or body, ensure attendance of a suitable high ranking official with authority to settle the dispute on behalf of the corporation or body;
d. attend the ADR session in good faith without undue requests for adjournments or unwarranted delays and comply with directives from the Court and the LMDC Practice Direction.
e. prepare adequately for an ADR Session, be actively involved and be willing to explore various options towards settlement.
Enforcement of Settlement Agreements and Awards
19. (1) Upon the completion of a mediation proceeding, Settlement Agreements which are duly signed by the parties shall be enforceable as a contract between the parties; and when such agreements are further endorsed by the Referral Judge (court-referred matters) or the ADR Judge (Walk-in & Direct Intervention matters) or any other Judge as directed by the Chief Judge, it shall be deemed to be enforceable under Section 11 of the Sherriff and Civil Process Act.
(2) Arbitration Awards shall be enforced as provided for in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, Cap. A18, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 or such other amended legislation.
Panel of Neutrals
20. (1) The Screening and Selection Committee shall establish and maintain a body of mediators, arbitrators and neutral evaluators and other such neutrals as shall be required in response to ADR needs, and this body shall be known as “The Panel of Neutrals”.
(2) This Panel shall comprise of individuals who have:
a. distinguished themselves in their chosen vocations;
b. considerable relevant experience in their particular field of ADR practice; and
c. been trained and duly certified by a reputable and recognized organization in such a field of expertise.
(3) The LMDC shall also maintain a limited corps of in-house neutrals as mediators and arbitrators whose terms of engagement shall be as approved by the Council.
(4) The fees payable to the Panel of Neutrals for services rendered at the LMDC shall be in accordance with the stipulated guidelines as approved by the Council.
(5) The Council shall after due consultation with the Screening and Selection Committee, remove a member of the Panel of Neutrals on grounds of misconduct or inability to perform the functions of a member of the Panel.
Establishment of the LMDC Fund
21. (1) The LMDC shall establish and maintain a fund which shall be applied towards the realization of its objectives and functions.
(2) There shall be paid and credited to the fund established pursuant to sub-section 1 of this section, the following:
a. All grants as may be provided by the Government of Lagos State based on the budget presented.
b. All sums accruing to The LMDC by way of aid, gifts, testamentary dispositions, endowments or contributions by persons or organizations.
c. All fees paid for services rendered by The LMDC or for the utilization of its facilities.
d. All other sums which may from time to time accrue to the LMDC in the form of grants, awards or any other form of support by private persons or organizations.
(3) The LMDC shall not accept any aid, gifts testamentary dispositions, endowments or contributions by persons or organisations if the conditions attached are inconsistent with or inimical to the objectives and functions of The LMDC.
(4) The LMDC may subject to the provisions of this Law, and the conditions of any fund created in respect of any property, invest its funds, including any of its surplus funds on any securities or such other ventures as may be directed by the Council.
Accounts and Audit
22. (1) The LMDC shall maintain accounts in any bank as may be approved by the Council.
(2) The Council shall
a. cause to be prepared not later than the 31st of October in each year, an estimate of the income and expenditure of The LMDC for the next year; and
b. cause to be kept, proper accounts and records of The LMDC in relation to its ( LMDC) income, expenditure, cash flow and other necessary accounting requirements towards ensuring a transparent statement of accounts.
(3) The accounts of The LMDC shall be audited each year by auditors appointed by the Council.
23. (1) The Director shall submit to the Chief Judge of Lagos State a bi-annual report of the activities of the LMDC, including statistics of cases, during the immediate preceding year, or for such periods as the Chief Judge may require.
23. (2) The Annual Report shall include the audited accounts of The LMDC and the auditor’s report on those accounts.
Power to borrow
24. (1) The LMDC may from time to time, obtain loans by way of overdraft facilities or otherwise such sum as may be required for the performance of functions of the LMDC under this Law.
(2) The Director shall obtain the approval of the Council before taking such facilities as required under subsection (1) of this section.
Exemption from tax
25. (1) The LMDC shall not be liable to tax on its income, expenditure or other transaction by any Government or authority in Lagos State Service in the LMDC and Pension
26. (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of the Lagos State Pensions Law,
a. service in the LMDC shall be approved service for the purposes of that Law; and
b. accordingly, other officers and persons employed by the LMDC shall in respect of their service in the LMDC be entitled to pensions and other retirement benefits stated in the Staff Handbook.
(2) However, nothing in the Law shall prevent the appointment of a person to any office on terms which precludes the grants of pension and other retirement benefits in respect of that office.
Provision of Library facilities
27. The LMDC may establish and maintain a physical and virtual library comprising such books, records, reports and publications as may be necessary for the advancement of knowledge in the areas of activities undertaken by it, for research purposes and for other purposes connected with the functions of the LMDC by or pursuant to this Law.
Legal Proceedings against the LMDC
28. (1) No suit shall commence against The LMDC before the expiration of a period of one month after written notice of intention to commence the suit shall have been served on The LMDC by the party intending to sue or by his solicitor and such notice shall clearly and explicitly state:
a. the cause of action and the particulars of claim;
b. the name and place of abode of the party intending to sue and,
c. the relief which he claims:
(2) No legal action shall be commenced in any court of law against the LMDC, the Director, any member of the Council or any of the Officers in relation to any activity or matter conducted in the course of business without an initial submission of the dispute or concern to mediation, which mediation shall be conducted in accordance with the LMDC Mediation Procedure Rules.
(3) The choice of the mediator shall be mutually agreed by the parties, failing which, the Chief Judge of Lagos State shall appoint a mediator.
(4) No member of the LMDC or any member of the LMDC Panel of Neutrals shall be liable for any act or omission committed in relation to the conduct of mediation, arbitration, neutral evaluation or other ADR processes except the act or omission is of a fraudulent nature.
(5) No suit shall lie against The LMDC, the Director, a member of the Council or any employee of The LMDC for any act or omission done in pursuance or execution of the functions conferred upon The LMDC by this Law or be instituted in any court of law unless such commenced within twelve months after the act, neglect or default complained of or, in the case of a continuance of damage or injury the cessation thereof.
Mode of service of documents on the LMDC
29. The notice referred to in subsection 1(a) of section 28 of this Law and any summons, process or other document required or authorised to be served on The LMDC under the provisions of this Law, or any other law, shall be served by delivering the same to the LMDC or by sending it by registered post to the LMDC office situate at the High Court of Justice, Lagos State.
Practice Directions and Rules of The LMDC
30. Upon the recommendation of the Council, the Chief Judge may:
1. issue such Practice Directions as are considered necessary for the effective utilisation of The LMDC in the administration of justice in the High Court of Lagos State; and
2. make such rules or procedure or issue such Practice Directions as may be necessary for the effective administration and efficient delivery of Alternative Dispute Resolution services at The LMDC
31. In this Law, unless the context otherwise requires-
“ADR Judge” refers to a serving Judge of the High Court of Lagos State who has been appointed by the Chief Judge of Lagos State to carry out such activities and functions as contained in this Law.
“Alternative Dispute Resolution” includes the entire range of alternatives to litigation that involves third party intervention to assist in the resolution of a dispute.
“Arbitration” is a simplified means of trial without the technicalities of litigation. In Arbitration, a dispute is submitted to an Arbitrator(s) for resolution who gives a binding Award which is enforceable in the same way and manner as a judgment of the court.
“Citizens Mediation Centre” means mediation centre set up by the Lagos State Ministry of Justice.
“Council” means the Governing Council of the LMDC constituted as provided under Section 3 of this Law.
“Counsel” means a Lawyer licensed to practice law be it in Lagos or elsewhere.
“Chairman” means The Chairman of the Governing Council of LMDC who is also the Chief Judge of Lagos State.
“Director” means the Director of The LMDC “Governors” means the Governor of Lagos State.
“In-House Neutrals” include Mediators, Arbitrators and Neutral Evaluators who are employed as staff of The LMDC.
“Mediation” is a process for resolving disputes with the aid of a neutral who assists parties, privately and collectively, to identify the issues in dispute and to reach settlement of the disputes and mutually accept them.
“NCMG” means the Negotiation and Conflict Management Group, an independent, non-profit and non-governmental organisation.
“Neutral Evaluation” is a preliminary, non-binding assessment of facts, evidence or legal merits by a neutral who may be a Judge, an experienced lawyer or such person with the requisite background and expertise in a given field.
“Panel of Neutrals” refers to a corps of mediators, arbitrators and neutral evaluators and any other person so appointed, who have considerable experience in their practice field, and who are selected by the Screening and Selection Committee of the LMDC, and who carry out duties at the specific request of the LMDC Principal Registrar.
“Screening and Selection Committee” is a Committee set up by the Governing Council for the purpose of selection and appointment of suitably qualified persons to the LMDC Panel of Neutrals.
“Settlement Agreement” means the terms of settlement or memorandum of understanding of any agreement by whatever name reached through mediation between disputing parties and which shall be enforced as the Consent Judgement of the Court on due endorsement by an ADR Judge or any other person so directed by the Chief Judge and registration at the Registry of the High Court of Justice, Lagos State.
“Settlement Week” means a week set aside by the Chief Judge of Lagos State High Court for specific Courts to clear the backlog of cases through means, which include mandatory referrals to the LMDC for possible resolution through mediation, arbitration, neutral evaluation or any other ADR procedure Citation and Commencement
32. The Law may be cited as either “The Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse Law” and shall come into force, on the ………….day of…………200…
Supplementary provisions relating to the Council Proceedings.
1. The Council may make standing orders to regulate its own proceedings or the proceedings of any Committee created by it which shall be in accordance with section 27 of the Interpretation Law.
2. The Quorum of the Council shall be five (5), if a quorum is not formed at the time of any meeting, the members present shall have power to adjourn the meeting.
The Quorum of any Committee of the Council shall be determined by the Council
3. The Council shall elect one of its members to be the Vice-Chairman of the Council for such period as the Council may determine, provided however that a Vice-Chairman who ceases to be a member shall cease to be the Vice-Chairman.
4. At any time while the office of the Chairman is vacant or the Chairman is in the opinion of the Council, permanently or temporarily unable to perform the functions of his office. The Vice-Chairman shall perform those functions and the references in this Law to the Chairman shall be construed accordingly.
Meeting of the Council
5. The Council shall meet at least twice in each calendar year.
6. Subject to the standing orders of the Council, the Council shall meet whenever it is summoned by the Chairman; and if the Chairman is required to do so, by notice given to him by not less than five other members, he shall summon a meeting of the Council to be held within fifteen days from the date on which the notice is so given.
7. At any meeting of the Council, the Chairman, or in his absence, the Vice-Chairman shall preside, but if both are absent, the members present at the meeting shall elect one of their numbers to preside at that meeting.
8. Where the Council desires to obtain the advice of any person on a particular matter, the Council may co-opt him as a member for such period as it thinks fit provided that a person who is a member by virtue of this paragraph, shall not be entitled to vote at any meeting of the Council and shall not count towards a quorum.
9. (1) The fixing of the seal of the Governing Council shall be authenticated by the signature of the Chairman or of some other member authorised generally or specially to act for that purpose.
(2) Any contract or instrument which if made or executed by any person not being a body corporate, would not be required to be made under seal, may be made or executed on behalf of the Governing Council by any person generally or specially authorised for that purpose by the Governing Council.
(3) Any document purported to be a document executed under the seal of the Governing Council shall be received in evidence and shall unless the contrary is proved to be deemed as if it were so executed.
10. Members of the Governing Council who are not public officers may be paid out of monies at the disposal of The LMDC such travelling and subsistence allowance in respect of any period spent on the business of The LMDC.
11. The legality of the proceedings of the Governing Council or of a Committee thereof shall not be affected by any vacancy in the membership of the Council or Committee, or by any defect in the appointment of a member of the Council or of a person to serve on the Committee, or by reason that a person not entitled to do so took part in the proceedings.
12. Any member of the Council and any person holding office on a committee of the Council, who has a personal interest in any contract or arrangement entered into or proposed to be considered by the Council or a Committee thereof shall immediately disclose his interest to the Governing Council and shall not vote on any question relating to the contract or arrangement.
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