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May 2013: A dynamic International Arbitration Centre in Mauritius

Dear Valued Investors,Ken En

The faster the internationalization process in a country or region, the greater and more expedient the need for international arbitration. This is axiomatic.

New initiatives always entail a new legal framework as well as new operational and efficacious mechanisms. Indeed there are far-reaching implications about the fact that Mauritius is endeavouring to be recognized as an international business centre. One of these pertains to the probability, if not the certainty, of the occurrence of international disputes. 

As arbitration is more and more often used for the resolution of com>mercial disputes, especially in the context of international commercial transactions, it is expedient for the international business community at large to be aware of the existence of the LCIA-MIAC arbitration centre.

While we have been diligent in increasing international and cross-border business and investment flows, the concomitant provisions for the resolution of disputes have equally been at the forefront of government’s concerns.

The association of the Mauritius International Arbitration Centre (MIAC) with the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) is a vital one, since LCIA is one of the leading international institutions for commercial dispute resolution. LCIA’s organisation, operation, outlook and services are known worldwide in the fields of arbitration, mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). LCIA has access to the most eminent and experienced arbitrators, mediators and experts from many jurisdictions, and with the widest range of expertise.

Without going into technical or procedural details, suffice it to know that arbitration is a method for the resolution of disputes outside the courts, where the parties to a dispute have recourse to one or more arbitrators, or an arbitral tribunal, by whose decision, or award, they agree to be bound.

I shall mention but three of the many advantages of arbitration. First, arbitration is often faster than litigation in court. Secondly, arbitration can be cheaper and more flexible for businesses. Thirdly, proceedings and the award resulting from arbitration respect confidentiality.

The International Arbitration Act 2008 represents the initial framework for the promotion and establishment of Mauritius as a center for international arbitration and commercial conciliation. The recent amendments to that foundational piece of legislation aim at definitely establishing our jurisdiction as a centre of reference for the arbitration of disputes in the wider African region and beyond. 

Among its various assets and attributes, Mauritius has the great advantage of being a neutral country and one perceived as such by both developed economies and emerging ones. Furthermore, the prevalence of the rule of law in our democracy and our strategic move to position Mauritius as the bridge between the economic giants of the southern hemisphere give legitimacy to the implementation of international systems of dispute resolution for business in the African region as well as in the emerging global business community.

It is in the scheme of economic development that an international business platform should own and stimulate the process of international arbitration as an effective means of dispute resolution. Arbitration will progressively become part of our legal culture while enhancing our business climate.

Two conferences on arbitration have been held in Mauritius, in 2010 and 2012, respectively.  The most comforting news came last year when the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA) awarded to Mauritius the right to host the 2016 ICCA Congress, over Copenhagen, Hong Kong and Sydney.

The interview of Mr. Duncan Bagshaw, Registrar of LCIA-MIAC, comes at an opportune time to reassure our business community about our preparedness in our bid to be recognized as a fully operational international business platform. As a matter of fact, Mauritius is actively promoting LCIA-MIAC as an arbitration centre for investment disputes, for instance in the recently concluded Egypt-Mauritius IPPA.

Finally, pursuant to our ongoing Africa strategy and in order to increase our visibility on the global market, the Board of Investment is engaging with the ABN group for the setting up of a bureau in Mauritius.  This bureau is expected to be operational by July this year. It will provide real business cases and information which will be broadcasted on the CNBC Africa business news channel.

We trust that you will find the newsletter informative and we assure you of our ever-present support for the materialisation of your projects.

Ken Poonoosamy
Managing Director