By NATARIO MCKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Bahamas must have “the right people” with the required knowledge and expertise if it is going to be taken seriously as an international arbitration hub, an international believes.
Michael Stephens, London-based president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators,told a panel discussion at the Pre-Interenational Council for Commercial Arbitration Congress, held in Nassau, that developing the necessary infrastructure was not simply about buildings but also human resources.
“Infrastructure is not just about the buildings and the process; it’s about the people as well. If the Bahamas is going to be taken seriously as an international arbitration hub, you need well qualified and knowledgeable participants,” said Mr Stephens.
He added that he had “no doubt” that the “intellectual quality” exists in this jurisdiction.
“Don’t forget the people. You can build the buildings but you need the people to operate the system,” said Mr Stephens, noting that there will be “initial teething problems” to get the right people in place to promote the sector and its expertise.
Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson said communication was an essential part of the process as the Bahamas moves to become an international arbitration hub. “There really needs to be a thrust to communicate more, not less,” said Mrs Maynard-Gibson, adding: “The Bahamas is well-poised to become a regional centre.”
The Attorney General said it was essential for the Bahamas Bar Association and the Judiciary to “buy in” to the arbitration centre drive.
“If the Bar Association isn’t going to buy in, if the judges don’t buy in, we are going to have a terrible problem,” said Mrs Maynard-Gibson. “Establishing an international arbitration centre in the Bahamas is going to bring more work for lawyers if they are properly trained, increase the quality of life in the community and therefore the country.”
The Attorney General noted that establishing this jurisdiction as an arbitration hub would also have other economic spin-off effects, namely work for paralegals, translators, stenographers, hotel room nights and business for local outlets such as restaurants.