By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Bahamas should adopt the United Nations model law on international trade, and have a single regime for domestic and international arbitration, an industry expert stated yesterday.
Datuk Professor Sandra Rajoo, director of the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (KLRCA), told Tribune Business that if this nation wants to be "plugged in" as an arbitration centre it must adopt model law. Professor Rajoo will be a presenter at the sixth annual Arbitration and Investment Summit on Monday, at the auditorium of the Harry C Moore Library and Information Centre.
"The Bahamas should consider going into model law, UNCITRAL model law. There are 78 countries in the world which have adopted model law, and the Bahamas should be a part of that family," said Professor Rajoo. The Model Law is designed to assist states in reforming and modernising their laws on arbitral procedure, accounting for the particular features and needs of international commercial arbitration.
"If you want to be plugged in, especially as a small country, you have to go model law. It has paid off for Malaysia. I think all of these counties that enacted the English Arbitration Act of 1996 in whatever form are not doing as well in arbitration," said said Professor Rajoo.
"England has an established judicial tradition and judiciary, which is exceptionally good, but that does not mean that one would achieve the same thing by imitating them. Around the world countries are moving to a single regime, bringing the same standards to international and domestic arbitration."
Professor Rajoo, added: "It's better to have one Act and one arbitral regime for both international and domestic arbitration. If not you can have confusion and resources will be dissipated."
Dr Peter Maynard, host of the arbitration summit, told Tribune Business: "We have the 2009 Bahamas Act, which was based on the 1996 UK Act that was supposed to be UNCITRAL compliant, but UNCITRAL did not accept the UK Act as being compliant.
"Right now there is a Bill here which will introduce the UNICTRAL model law, but will create a centre for international arbitration, and the old Act will still be in existence for domestic arbitration. There should be no separation between the two. There should be one centre and one Act, and that's what I have been advocating.
"What's been said so far is the Bahamas is going to have an international commercial arbitration Act under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Investments, and domestic arbitration under the jurisdiction of the Attorney General.
"That is really a waste of resources."