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Arbitration Inserted Into Bec Agreement

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

Dispute resolution clauses providing for arbitration were included in recent Heads of Agreement struck with international investors, as the Government seeks to make this the “standard” for all its commercial dealings.

Hope Strachan, minister of financial services, said the Children’s Bay Cay project, and management agreement with PowerSecure for Bahamas Power & Light (BPL), both provide that any disputs between investor and Government be referred to arbitration first, rather than the courts.

  Mrs Strachan, who was addressing a Society of Trust and  Estate Practitioners (STEP) luncheon, yesterday described the arbitration clauses as “major victories”. 

She added that the Law Reform Commission will soon begin the consultation period for the Bahamas International Commercial Arbitration Bill 2016. This will amend the present Bahamas Arbitration Act 2009, and apply to domestic arbitrations.

“The recent Baha Mar saga highlighted the disadvantage of failing to provide for arbitrations, and highlighted the desirability of including such clauses in contractual agreements to facilitate expeditious dispute resolution,” Mrs Strachan said.

“I am proud to say that in light of my government’s efforts to establish the Bahamas as the regional arbitral hub, and in light of our ability to inform all Heads of Agreement between the Government of the Bahamas and foreign investors, dispute resolution clauses allowing for arbitration to be used as a means of resolving disputes that might arise - and using the Bahamas as the seat - were included in both the Children’s Bay and the BEC contracts.”

    She added: “This is a major victory. The inistry of Financial Services will work with the Ministry of Finance, the Office of the Prime Minister and the Bahamas Investment Authority to make this standard in all Heads of Agreement signed between the Government of the Bahamas, foreign investors and other contractual parties.”

    Mrs Strachan said the Bahamas’ proximity to the US, infrastructure, advanced technology, stable government, trained judiciary and cadre of trained financial services professionals, many of whom are already trained as arbitrators, makes the Bahamas an attractive prospect for international arbitration.

International arbitration, and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR have become increasingly popular as methods for resolving commercial disputes.

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