By NATARIO McKENZIE
Plans towards the establishment of The Bahamas as an international commercial arbitration centre are moving “full steam ahead”, Minister of Financial Services Hope Strachan said yesterday.
“Recognising the untapped potential to improve our international stature, my Ministry is also working on the establishment of The Bahamas as an International Commercial Arbitration Center for the Caribbean region,” Mrs Strachan said. “We already have a diverse cadre of local professionals fully trained in arbitration, and we our now focusing more attention on this initiative. We have hired two consultants in arbitration, a well-known and respected international consultant as well as a professional, highly trained local consultant to provide us with an action plan to get us there as soon as possible. It is full steam ahead.”
She went on to note that the establishment of an arbitration centre will help to build investor confidence in our jurisdiction’s ability “to rapidly and affordably resolve disputes, creating long term employment opportunities and providing an alternative to litigation”.
Mrs Strachan said that the move would also allow The Bahamas to develop a culture of alternative dispute resolution including mediation, “thus strengthening our judicial system and allowing it to enforce speedy arbitral awards”.
“We believe that establishing The Bahamas as a major international arbitration hub, will not only complement the our legal profession, but also our financial services, maritime services, foreign direct investment projects, and international business initiatives,” said Mrs Strachan.
Mrs Strachan also noted that competition with the financial services industry has spawned a new trend of products tailor made for high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals who have the advantage of choice of jurisdiction for residency and in some cases citizenship.
“The economic impact that initiatives tied to immigration through residency can have on an economy have been proven and there are positive examples globally of the success of such programmes in the UK, Canada, Singapore, and Malta. These products can be tied to investments, home ownership, business ownership or investment, education, infrastructure, commodities or even corporate social responsibility,” said Mrs Strachan.
“My Ministry has studied models to determine the feasibility of such a policy and will actively engage our partners in consultation in short order. We must ensure that we are giving ourselves the best opportunity to compete in this arena while guarding against reputational risks in every respect,” she said.