Come next year, the PPP/C government said it will pursue a suite of new laws, one of which will allow for the new oil-producing State to build an Arbitration empire for the region. This was recently revealed by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall on his programme, Issues in the News.
Nandlall said, “The Arbitration Bill is already a work in progress and will be laid in the National Assembly in 2023. This will be the most modern Arbitration Law in the Caribbean. In fact, it is a model legislation…Training has already begun at the level of the judiciary, at the level of the private sector, and at the level of the legal profession.”
The Legal Affairs Minister added, “We want to ensure that all these major contracts and projects that we are signing every day, where the arbitration has to be done in North America or in Europe, we can have it done right here and keep millions of dollars in our economy. At the same time, we can attract arbitrations from the region.”
Nandlall said this is a multi-billion-dollar industry that the country must prepare to tap. He is optimistic that the modernized law will pave the way for this to be achieved.
For readers unfamiliar with the term, arbitration is a form of an Alternative Method of Dispute Resolution (ADR). It is a private procedure, whereby parties involved in a dispute submit the dispute to one or more arbitrators, mutually agreed upon, and the arbitrator makes a legally binding decision on the matter. Because of the adversarial nature of the court system, it is usually a last resort option for the commercial industry and arbitration is extensively preferred, due to its confidential and time-saving nature.
The current legislation dates back to1919, with minor amendments. As a result of this archaic law, investors are deterred to undertake methods of alternative dispute resolution within Guyana.
Back in 2020, retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Belize, Courtney Abel, was engaged to undertake the task of upgrading Guyana’s existing Arbitration legislation and make recommendations on developing the country into an arbitration empire. Justice Abel, a prominent legal practitioner within the Caribbean, was asked to review all of Guyana’s existing laws and regulations in the subject area and make appropriate recommendations for the repeal, reform and passing of new laws. That process is still ongoing.