Ex-justice: Mandate Bahamas cruise ship disputes heard here


Tribune Business Editor


A retired Supreme Court justice yesterday called on all Bahamas-flagged cruise ships to require that passenger disputes be mediated in this nation as way to kickstart this nation’s international arbitration hub ambitions.

Former justice Rubie Nottage told a Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) Bahamas branch luncheon that while the sums involved were likely to be minimal, it would drive significant volumes of business.

With many of the major cruise lines, such as Carnival and RoyalCaribbean, operating Bahamas-flagged ships, Mrs Nottage called on them to insert a clause into passenger contracts ensuring “that matters that arise on Bahamas-flagged vessels be arbitrated in the Bahamas.

“Do you see the work that is opening up for us?” she asked. “It may be small, but it is something for those who are qualified.”

Mrs Nottage, the CIArb Bahamas branch’s training and education chair, also questioned why arbitration and adjudication techniques were not employed much sooner in a bid to resolve the dispute over the $3.5 billion Baha Mar project.

This was especially given that the differences, and issues, between the developer and China Construction (Bahamas) were coming into the open, with at least three disputes referred to a Disputes Resolution Board.

“One wonders why adjudication was not even a possibility at Baha Mar, when there had been three reports of concerns made,” Mrs Nottage said. She added that had adjudication been employed, “those matters would have been resolved without the hiatus we have now”.

said it had achieved an “almost 100 per cent turnaround’ in terms of members who were qualified to practice as arbitrators.

The branch has three membership categories - fellows, members and associates. Of those, only the first two are certified and allowed to practice as arbitrators.

Mrs Nottage explained that while the majority of the Bahamas branch’s members at end-2014 had been associate, its training efforts had reversed this to the point where qualified members will be in the majority.

Associate numbers were set to drop from 29 to 15 by end-2015, and she added: “By early next year we should have 25-20 new arbitrators ready to do the work the country is offering them. We want those persons to get the business.”

The Bahamas CIArb branch took just one year to be recognised by the London-based parent organisation, and now boasts 70 members. It has three fellows, the highest arbitrator rank, ensuring this nation leads the Caribbean in that regard. All can sit on the committees hearing investment disputes at the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement and Resolution.

Mrs Nottage said many parties to disputes, both commercial, family and other conflicts, were finding that litigation through the courts was “not the answer”.

Referring to the steps of mediation, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and adjudication, she added: “They are all necessary if we are to turn our country around, and really their efficacy must be used by every one of our residents and concerns.

“On every island there should be a fully-trained mediator. That is one of the dreams of our organisation.”

Mrs Nottage said the CIArb Bahamas branch wanted to act as “the one-stop shop” for the training and certification of professional arbitrators in the Bahamas, ensuring those in the field attained certain standards and were held accountable.

This would also ensure that Bahamians are qualified to sit on International Chambers of Commerce panels when they come to hear disputes in Nassau, with the CIArb able to suggest arbitrators most qualified to hear disputes based on the subject matter.

Khaalis Rolle, minister of state for investments, praised the CIArb Bahamas branch for creating “a new revenue line and income generating market for the country” by developing the human capital necessary to support an international arbitration centre.

“What the CIArb is doing is innovative,” he said. “It’s a platform for real diversification. This is a message I will take back to the Prime Minister. This is a real opportunity that we have. We just have to harvest the opportunity.”


banker 8 years, 8 months ago

Nobody will use the Bahamas arbitration in the same manner that we do not use the Caricom Supreme Court of the Caribbean. The reason is that one wants a body that is truly impartial and not influenced by politics, connections and money. This unfortunately is not the case in the Bahamas.

No one will want to come to the Bahamas for arbitration after what the government did to Sarkis Izmirlian and Baha Mar. We are not an impartial jurisdiction, and the corruption will prevent anyone from using Bahamians as arbitrators.


BaronInvest 8 years, 8 months ago

What banker said - I would only come here and when i already bribed everyone involved, that's how it works here...


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