Economic benefits in the pipeline for Guyana as a focal point of regional arbitration

Justice (ret’d) Courtney Abel and Attorney General and Minister for Legal Affairs Mohabir Anil Nandlall SC in an engagement earlier this month

Justice Courtney Abel, a retired judge of the Belizean Supreme Court, says Guyana’s attempt to establish itself as an arbitration center for the Caribbean could dramatically transform its economy.

The Guyana-born juror, who now lives in the United Kingdom, led a virtual debate on Monday night on “Guyana – the next arbitration hub: The journey begins.” The webinar was a joint venture of the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Guyana Bar Association.

Attorney General and Minister for Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, SC, said Justice Abel was experienced in arbitration and recently completed a similar large-scale successful project in Belize. He is one of several consultants and experts who will guide Guyana’s journey towards becoming the center of Caribbean arbitration.

Justice Abel said that arbitration is a special type of arrangement, where parties have autonomy and control. He said it provided a disciplined and methodical way in which Guyana’s transformation could take place.

“I have seen how the service industries like arbitration can transform economies powerfully and dramatically. I say that with the support of the Government and with the support of the Bar Association, the Supreme Court and the people, this arbitration system will be the way in which the economy will be transformed, ”he told the webinar.

The retired judge said Guyana’s recent rise to a large oil-producing nation was among the reasons for the discussion on radical economic transformation. He said disputes arise frequently in the oil sector, and will undoubtedly come to the fore in Guyana.

“Disputes in oil and gas are very large and are expected to grow. They are between commercial companies, investors and states and between provinces. The topic issues include various issues including contracts, national statutes, international treaties et cetera. The issues raised are all very complex and specialized, ”he noted.

Guyana seeks to review the international treaty arrangements relating to arbitration, and the development and upgrading of the local laws, rules, practices and cultures in relation to arbitration. It is also looking to develop protocols and training programs to establish and maintain international standards of best arbitration practice and build confidence in international investors that the country is a competent, gold-standard arbitration venue.

Attorney General Nandlall said Guyana was following a model that could see it become the focus of arbitration in the Caribbean and Latin America.

The process will include the modernization of the Guyana Arbitration Act, to address domestic and international arbitration. The AG said as Guyana emerges as a petroleum nation, it will attract a host of multinationals. Therefore, the country must prepare its legal architecture to accommodate the new influx of investors. [Extracted and Modified by DPI]