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Guyana closer to becoming arbitration hub

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passes modern bill in National Assembly

Guyana is inching closer to becoming a hub for commercial arbitration, as a modern Arbitration Bill was on Friday passed in the National Assembly with unanimous support.

The bill provides guidelines for domestic and international arbitration.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Anil Nandlall, SC, MP

Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution that sees the parties involved in a dispute agreeing to have the case heard by one or more arbitrators, entrusted with making a legally binding decision on the matter.

In defending the bill during the 82nd sitting of the Twelfth Parliament, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, said that with its implementation, Guyana will be tapping into a highly lucrative industry, which has the potential for massive job creation.

“In this ever-expanding commercial environment, contracts are executed on a daily basis, both at the level of the state as well as in the private sector, involving billions of dollars in commercial undertakings,” the minister pointed out.

According to the AG, Guyana is lagging behind the rest of the Caribbean in meeting these demands of the commercial environment.

He pointed out that the country’s existing Arbitration Act is archaic, since it was enacted in 1916, and was only amended twice since. As a result, there is a critical need for a more progressive legislative arbitration framework.

“This bill creates a very flexible environment, so it allows for parties to go to arbitration by themselves. It allows for the court, during the course of a case, to refer a matter to arbitration if the contract that is the subject of litigation has an arbitration clause, and then it also allows for a company offering arbitration service in any part of the world to come to Guyana to offer that service,” the minister explained.

The minister also underscored that the bill underwent extensive consultation with international law firms.

The legislation includes key provisions of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on Arbitration, which has been approved by the CARICOM Secretariat for implementation by member states in the region.

AG Nandlall said that the government has also made the necessary preliminary arrangements to support the bill’s implementation through the establishment of an arbitration unit, and several training workshops to build capacity.

“Not only is the bill comprehensive, but the preparation that was engaged in before the bill was brought here was also an embracing one in terms of getting the widest possible input from experts in the field as well as building capacity in Guyana,” he said.

He underlined that arbitration promises greater expediency and efficiency.  

This, he stated, will promote a greater ease of business, eliminating excessive and protracted appeal processes.

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Hon Oneidge Walrond addressing the National Assembly on Friday

This position was echoed by Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Hon. Oneidge Walrond.

The lauded the bill as yet another tangible step towards creating a morefavourable business environment for international and local investors.

“The primary objective in drafting this legislation is to create solid and reassuring guidelines to investors while ensuring consistency and compliance with the highest international standards,” she told the National Assembly.

This legislation forms part of the government’s drive to modernise Guyana’s legislative architecture to keep up with the growing economy.

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