Malawi AG Thabo Chakaka urges African Countries to embrace arbitration

The Hon. the Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda has today emphasized the need for African countries to embrace arbitration for purposes of attaining commercial development and fostering trade.

The AG, addressing participants at the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) Conference in Nairobi, Kenya organized to celebrate 40 years of excellence and reflect on the future of the alternative dispute resolution in Africa, said there is a need for continued reforms in Africa in order to bring the continent’s arbitral practices in line with global standards.

Nyirenda urged the participants to swiftly deal with the common challenges faced in the arbitration process which include inadequate legal and institutional framework on international commercial arbitration; a perceived general tendency by parties to a dispute doing business in Africa to go back to their home turfs when appointing arbitrators and bias against Africa that renders the continent’s image as a corrupt and uncivilized.

”African states, among others, must train the judiciary and the Commercial Bar, reform the system by creating specialized arbitration courts and limiting the courts’ powers to set aside,” he said.

Other speakers spoke of the need to amend laws to also incorporate cultures that do away with silos arbitration centres and come up with one African institution that serves the interests of Africa as a whole.

Arbitration offers a quick and cost effective settlement of disputes without the need for a drawn-out litigation process. Malawi is making positive strides on arbitration. In January this year, the AG Chamber, with support from other stakeholders, organized a three-day training for all legal practitioners in Malawi.

Further, the enactment in Malawi earlier this year of International Arbitration Act, the establishment of Malawi International Arbitration Centre that awaits operationalization and Support of the courts clears the way for international arbitration seat in Malawi.

Malawi acceded to the New York Convention effective 2nd June, 2021 and is the 167th country in the world to accede to the Convention. By doing so, Malawi qualifies itself as a suitable jurisdiction in which international and local commercial disputes can be resolved through arbitration as an alternative dispute resolution to litigation.

These developments makes Malawi a potential seat for international commercial arbitration. The conference, which has attracted participants from Africa and beyond, opened yesterday and is closing tomorrow.

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