Arbitration Bill will create a more business-friendly environment – Walrond

– as Guyana will be able to become seat of arbitration in local, int’l disputes

The recently passed Arbitration Bill (2023) will help Guyana not only create a more business-friendly environment that will attract investors but will allow for Guyana to become a seat of arbitration, tapping into a potentially lucrative foreign currency earner.

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond

According to Tourism, Industry, and Commerce Minister, Oneidge Walrond, this Bill will aid in Guyana becoming even more business and investor-friendly. She made it clear that the Bill will have multiple benefits for Guyana from a commercial standpoint.
“The overarching benefit is that the arbitration bill will create a more business-friendly environment in Guyana by encouraging investment, facilitating international trade, and mitigating risk associated with potential non-compliance.”
“Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of Guyana’s economy. Driving innovation and job creation. However, venturing into international trade can be daunting for SMEs due to limited resources and unfamiliarity with complex legal systems,” Walrond said.
According to Walrond, the proposed arbitration bill offers a powerful solution to resolve international and domestic commercial disputes. Further, she noted that arbitration will allow SMEs to be empowered to enter international trade.
She also revealed that Guyana will become eligible for status as a seat of arbitration. This means that contracting companies can choose Guyana as a country to conduct arbitration. Because arbitration fees in the United Kingdom (UK) contributed £2.5 Billion to the British economy, this is a potentially lucrative area for Guyana.
“By approving this Bill, we’re sending a clear message that Guyana is open to business and committed to a modern, efficient legal system. Our approval of this bill also reaffirms to the local private sector that government continues to work in their best interest by enacting laws geared towards expanding our economy,” the Minister further said.
The Arbitration Bill was passed in the National Assembly on Friday last, containing key provisions from the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on Arbitration, as well as from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) model.
Previously, Attorney General Anil Nandlall, who presented the bill, had revealed that two law firms, Arnold and Porter out of Washington D.C., and Gibson and Dunn out of New York and London, had reviewed the bill and had made certain recommendations that were accepted and included.
While presenting the Bill, Nandlall pointed out that the government has done quite a bit of groundwork to prepare for the bill, ranging from consultations, the establishment of an arbitration unit, and the holding of several training workshops to build capacity.
In keeping with its commitment to create a modern platform for arbitration as an effective method of settling commercial and other disputes in the country, the Government of Guyana has already established an Arbitration Unit.
This Arbitration Unit will liaise with the Judiciary and key stakeholders at periodic intervals as this initiative is part of the Government of Guyana’s declared intention to create a modern infrastructure for the arbitration and conciliation of commercial disputes in Guyana.
The unit was established by AG Nandlall and comprised representatives from various stakeholder organisations. These include Jamela A. Ali, SC, from the Bar Association of Guyana; Attorney Suriyah Sabsook from the Berbice Bar Association; Norman McLean from the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and from the AG’s Chambers Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel Joann Bond and Deputy Solicitor General Deborah Kumar with AG Nandlall as the Chairman.