Govt to enact Model Arbitration Bill this year

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall

The Government of Guyana, in keeping with its stated commitment to create a modern platform for arbitration as an effective method of settling commercial and other disputes in Guyana, will this year enact a Model Arbitration Bill. Government will continue in 2023 to offer capacity building by training and education to familiarise stakeholders with the concept, operational value and benefit of arbitration in the context of the impending legislative framework.

The Honourable Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Mohabir Anil Nandlall SC MP, in furtherance of the Government of Guyana’s mandate, in 2022, wrote all relevant stakeholders and circulated The Impact Justice Model Arbitration Bill, 2022 for review and requested comments on the same. This Model Arbitration Bill incorporates the key provisions of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Arbitration and was approved by the Caricom Secretariat for implementation by member States in the region.

Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean Project (IMPACT Justice) is a multi-country regional justice sector reform project funded by the Government of Canada, and is implemented from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados through its Project Director Professor Vilma Newton, who provided invaluable guidance and support to ensure that Guyana, one day, becomes a modern arbitration hub.

In this stead, and in keeping with the objective to educate, train and build capacity which formally commenced in the year 2022, the Attorney General’s Chambers and Ministry of Legal Affairs in collaboration with IMPACT Justice and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Caribbean Branch, Young Members Group, held a Workshop on ‘Drafting Arbitration Clauses: Practical Workshop’, on the 5th and 7th April, 2022, via the Zoom Platform.

This Workshop was extended to all Attorneys at Law through the Bar Association of Guyana, the Berbice Bar Association and also to the Private Sector Commission, inviting interested persons within those organisations to participate, where upon completion the participants received certification.

The objective of the ‘Drafting Arbitration Clauses: Practical Workshop’ highlighted the relevance of including arbitration clauses in contracts and to provide an introduction to the drafting of enforceable arbitration clauses. This Workshop was offered free and sessions were conducted by arbitration experts in the Caribbean, Ms. Shan Greer assisted by Ms. Kimberley Williams.

This was followed by another Workshop on “Roadmap to Implementation of a New Arbitration Law for Guyana and other CARICOM countries” held during 16 May, 2022 to 9th June, 2022, which resulted from a similar collaboration between Attorney General’s Chambers and Ministry of Legal Affairs and IMPACT Justice.

This Workshop produced a more expansive and tailored arbitration training for members of the Judiciary, The Bar Association of Guyana, Private and Public Sectors, Civil Society and Media.

The objective of this second Workshop was to build national capacity and enable participants to understand the purpose of arbitration and to familiarise them with the intended legal framework. In this regard, this Workshop on “Roadmap to Implementation of a New Arbitration Law for Guyana and other CARICOM countries” was facilitated by internationally renowned Caribbean arbitrators, Hon. Barry Leon and Professor Anthony Diamsis of University of Ottawa and distinguished Guyanese arbitrator based in Europe, Mr. Calvin A. Hamilton of Arbitra International and the President of the Chartered Institute of Arbitration, Caribbean Branch, Mr. Miles F. Weeks.

In this new year, the Honourable Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Mohabir Anil Nandlall SC MP, established an Arbitration Unit, as various stakeholders selected and sent their respective nominee who would be their representative on the Arbitration Unit which comprises of members from Attorney General’s Chambers, The Bar Association of Guyana, Private Sector Commission and Berbice Bar Association. This Arbitration Unit will liaise with the Judiciary and key stakeholders at periodic intervals as this initiative is part of the Government of Guyana’s declared intention to create a modern infrastructure for the arbitration and conciliation of commercial disputes in Guyana. The inaugural meeting of the Arbitration Unit is fixed for the 6th February, 2023.

In addition, plans are in place as The Attorney General’s Chambers and Ministry of Legal Affairs, in collaboration with ROLE UK, will embark on an in person Arbitration Training Workshop, for a duration for five days, for Attorneys at Law in the public sector to take place by the end of March, 2023, with emphasis on The Impact Justice Model Arbitration Bill, 2022.

In addition to concentrating on the Arbitration Bill, during this first workshop of 2023 other areas, such as Investment Arbitration, would be made a topic to raise awareness of advancing international arbitration practice throughout the region.

The Impact Justice Model Arbitration Bill, 2022, received resounding endorsement across the Caribbean and was approved as a CARICOM Model Bill. [Press Release]