By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
MINISTER of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson believes the island should be the centre for arbitration in the Bahamas and commended ADR Bahamas for holding a training seminar for Bahamians in Freeport.
He encouraged the business community and residents to view arbitration as an alternative to the courts in resolving disputes.
“I also encourage legal practitioners to utilise this process,” Mr Thompson said. “If we want to sell ourselves as an international destination for arbitration, we must first expand the local practice. Second, we must be prepared to adjust our investment and immigration policy.”
ADR Bahamas is committed to the resolution of disputes and issues by means other than litigation. The organisation is conducting a training seminar for persons in Grand Bahama.
“It is my hope that ADR Bahamas will grow in popularity, and eventually lead to an international arbitration centre that we seek to have operating here in Grand Bahama. This will bring opportunities for Bahamians as well as travelers,” the senator said.
He said there are always persons looking for a confidential, quick and convenient settlement, and waiting for a court appointment or going through the process can be tedious at times.
“Arbitration seeks to resolve disputes fairly and quickly. The resolution is recognised as equivalent to a court decision, and both parties can move on having dealt with the dispute.
“As we continue to work toward making Grand Bahama the centre for industry and innovation the entrepreneurial hub it is destined to be, it is important to embrace new, ways to resolve matters and maintain respect and peace among community members. And as with all new initiatives, local support is needed,” he said.
Senator Thompson indicated that the Office of the Prime Minister would also support the growth of this new industry by assisting with training of Bahamians to take advantage of these opportunities.
He commended the Grand Bahama Port Authority for its commitment to provide a facility for the centre.
Mr Thompson also said the government is committed to the revitalisation of Grand Bahama.
“Today’s training is the nuts and bolts of the revitalisation process. It starts with local initiatives and changes within our own communities that will make us more modern and productive.
“We need new industry and a radical change. However, preparation is first required before opportunity will come,” he said.
The Bahamas passed the Arbitration Act in 2009.