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Bahamas Must Make A ‘Bang’ On Arbitration

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

A leading attorney has proposed the creation of an international arbitration body in the Bahamas, telling Tribune Business yesterday that this nation must “proceed without further delay” to see off Caribbean competitors.

Dr Peter Maynard, a former Bar Association president, said that while there has been talk of establishing the Bahamas as an arbitration hub over the past several years, his firm had submitted a proposal to the Government to create a Western Hemisphere Arbitration & Mediation Centre (WHAM) here.

Speaking with Tribune Business ahead of his third annual arbitration and investment forum, scheduled for next Friday, Dr Maynard said: “We have heard and participated in government’s effort to discuss the arbitration centre. We have also seen a lot of attention paid to not just international but commercial arbitration.

“We have suggested that we ought to proceed to establish the Bahamas as a centre, get the Bahamas out there and set up a body called the Western Hemisphere Arbitration & Mediation Centre (WHAM), and provide the standard in terms of training, arbitration clauses and rules.

“A part of our proposal is that we try and find a middle ground and proceed without further delay to establish what we call WHAM. The proposal is on the table, it’s a Bill, a discussion paper to begin to work from.”

Dr Maynard said that while a physical arbitration centre may not be established immediately, his proposal outlined the framework by which it could be established.

“We need to put the framework in place. We certainly have the personnel, whether it be stenographers, mediators or arbitrators, and we can train more, Dr Maynard said.

He added that other Caribbean jurisdictions were also looking to establish themselves as international arbitration hub, underscoring the need for the Bahamas to get moving.

“There are many other jurisdictions who have been listening and thinking about doing the same thing, and the number is increasing.  The British Virgin Islands has passed legislation on this subject, and there are other as well. I understand that there may be three or four other jurisdictions that would like to be arbitration centres,” said Dr Maynard.

   Dr Maynard was part of the Government’s arbitration counsel, and co-chaired the Bahamas Bar Association’s arbitration committees. The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) also said the Bahamas is well placed to become an international arbitration hub, serving as a gateway for investment in the western hemisphere.

Dr Maynard said a part of his proposal under WHAM is the promotion of community mediation. “I have often said that one of the problems we have is that many of our people do not resolve their disputes peacefully,” he added. 

“WHAM is intended to also promote community mediation. It’s an opportunity for us to tackle the international sector, which is important for building our economy, but also an opportunity to look inward and provide  for what’s greatly needed; peaceful dispute resolution within our community.”

This year’s arbitration and investment forum is a half-day event that will cover topics such as maritime and cruise arbitration in the Bahamas; financial services, trade and commercial disputes; as well as new trends in arbitration.

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