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News : Bahamas Information Services Updates Last Updated: Jan 29, 2019 - 11:25:39 AM

Bahamas Still Committed to Becoming International Arbitration Centre
By Betty Vedrine
Jan 28, 2019 - 3:00:40 PM

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Nassau, The Bahamas - Minister of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration, the Hon. Brent Symonette reiterated commitment to the country becoming an International Arbitration Centre.  He made the remarks while welcoming delegates from across the region during the 7th Annual Arbitration and Investment Summit: Caribbean, Latin America & Other Emerging Markets.  The event was held at Baha Mar Convention Centre, January 25, 2019 to the theme, ‘International and National Arbitration Centers: Cross Border, Cooperation and Partnerships.’

“I would like to extend a warm welcome on behalf of the Government and people of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, to all our international speakers and delegates who may have travelled from abroad to participate in the Summit,” said Minister Symonette.   “Gatherings such as this provide a unique opportunity to share information and provide updates on what policy makers are planning for the sector.”

He said that the conference was especially timely, as it coincided with the country’s timeline and objective of seeking to position itself as a credible centre for international commercial arbitration matters. 

“We are presently in the process of enacting legislation which will impact both international and national arbitration matters where The Bahamas serves as the venue,” he said.

He reiterated the government’s commitment to ensuring the success of the financial services industry.  “When I addressed participants last year at the 6th Summit, one of the things I noted was the Government’s awareness of The Bahamas’ continued reliance on tourism, financial services and foreign direct investment as drivers of the Bahamian economy and the government’s commitment to job creation, improving the standard of living of Bahamians and diversifying the Bahamian economy. I also noted that these goals have to be achieved in the context of an increasingly globalized society. “

He said that the government is cognizant of the fact that in order for the country to progress, it must be in a position to take advantage of opportunity taking place internationally.
“In that vein the government remains committed to the establishment of The Bahamas as a modern and sophisticated international commercial arbitration centre,” he said. “The establishment of The Bahamas as an arbitration centre will not only complement the Bahamian legal profession, but also the Bahamian financial and maritime services, foreign direct investment and other international business initiatives.  The potential for long term employment opportunities for Bahamian professionals working in such areas is significant.”

He said that it is also worth repeating that The Bahamas possesses all the attributes that makes it possible to be an arbitration hub given the country’s geographical location between North, Central and South America.

“Our accessibility by air transport to several major continents; our infrastructure by way of hotels and convention centers; our advanced technology; a long standing commitment to the rule of law; stable government; our trained judiciary and let us not forget an experienced and skilled cadre of professional lawyers, accountants, trust officers and insurance specialists to name a few.  These attributes should not be taken lightly as they give The Bahamas a competitive advantage over many competitors.”

He said that some progress has been made already as the country prepares itself for this new venture. “In addition to consultations held last year with Law Firms and Industry professionals, last November the Government laid in the House of Assembly the Arbitration (Amendment) Bill, 2018 and the International Commercial Arbitration Bill 2018.  Passage of both Bills will bring further certainty and clarity to the Law, particularly for those interested in using The Bahamas as a venue for arbitration matters,” said the Minister. 

“The Arbitration (Amendment) Bill, 2018, renames the 2009 Arbitration Act ‘The Bahamas Domestic Arbitration Act’ and will govern domestic arbitration.  The International Commercial Arbitration Bill 2018 incorporates key provisions of the Model Law of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). The Model Law covers all stages of the arbitral process from the arbitration agreement to the recognition and enforcement of the arbitral award and reflects a worldwide consensus on key aspects of international arbitration practice accepted by states the world over no matter their legal or economic systems.  The corresponding provisions of the UNCITRAL Model Law have been included in the Schedule of the International Commercial Arbitration Bill 2018 to indicate which provisions of the Bill align with corresponding provisions of the UNCITRAL Model Law making it easier for persons using the legislation.  As you are well aware, the Model Law has become the global benchmark for good arbitration legislation, and by incorporating its provisions within our laws we are demonstrating our desire to be at the forefront in this area.”

Copies of both Bills can be found on The Bahamas Government’s official website at https://www.bahamas.gov.bs

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