Guyana set to reap economic benefits from arbitration laws – retired judge
Kaieteur News – Justice Courtney Abel, a retired Belizean Supreme Court judge, says Guyana’s attempt to establish itself as an arbitration center for the Caribbean could dramatically transform its economy.
Justice Abel told a webinar on Tuesday that he had witnessed how the service industries can dramatically transform economies through arbitration.
“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.
“Guyana – the next arbitration hub: The journey begins” – the webinar theme, was a joint initiative of the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Guyana Bar Association
The Guyanese-born juror explained that arbitration is a special form of legal arrangement, which is part of alternative dispute resolution or a way to settle disputes outside the courts.
In the arbitration process, the decision is decided by one or more people, meaning the ‘arbitration award.’ An arbitration award is legally binding on both sides and enforceable in the courts.
In that regard, Justice Abel noted that Guyana’s recent rise to becoming a major oil-producing nation was among the reasons that the new dispute resolution process could benefit Guyana.
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.
The Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall SC had announced that Guyana was pursuing a model that could see it become the center of arbitration in the Caribbean and Latin America. He explained that the process would include the modernization of the Guyana Arbitration Act, to address domestic and international arbitration.
The AG said as Guyana emerged as a petroleum nation; it will attract a host of multinationals. Therefore, he stressed, the country must prepare its legal architecture to accommodate the new influx of investors. During the seminar, Nandlall said the intention is to build a foundation first.
“We are currently exploring the arbitration architecture to make it modern and model legislation has been issued worldwide and we are in the process of adapting it to meet Guyana’s expectations and linking it with the Judgment too, while on the same. time for arbitration as a process to be made available to the parties outside the legal system, if it does not wish to enter the formal legal system, ”he said.
As it stands, the AG noted that there are arbitration clauses in all contracts, especially those with the oil and gas companies, which mean that the matter will have to go to arbitration, and that Guyana will not get adequate arbitration delays the dispute process.
“In the contracts now, they say that if there is a dispute between the parties including the Government of Guyana, they have to go to Brussels or London or New York or Texas to resolve these disputes. We can resolve them right here by arbitration once we have put in place the necessary mechanisms and the statutory framework that is modern and responsive like those in the destinations chosen by these contracts, ”the AG explained .
Nandlall also noted that arbitration is just one of the alternative approaches to the Courts. As such, it revealed that work was also underway to upgrade the local mediation process.
Guyana’s arbitration structure over five decades old, is ancient and cannot meet the demands of new and dynamic industries. As a result, the RE Chambers has been seeking to review the international treaty arrangements relating to arbitration, and the development and upgrading of 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.