Govt takes steps to make Guyana an arbitration hub – Nandlall

…as virtual seminar held with top Guyanese legal minds

With the Government of Guyana making concentrated efforts to make the country into a hub for arbitration, Attorney General and Senior Counsel Anil Nandlall is maintaining that the Government will take steps to ensure that this occurs.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC

It was only recently that the Government engaged the services of Retired Justice Courtney Abel to revise Guyana’s arbitration legislation. His services involve consulting on the preparatory stages for the initiative, in the context of Guyana’s burgeoning oil and gas sector.
And on Monday, a virtual seminar was held by the Ministry of Legal Affairs, involving the top legal minds of the country and the Guyana Bar Association. During the seminar, Nandlall acknowledged that the free market largely determines where arbitration is done and by whom.
However, he noted that there are steps the Government is taking to make Guyana into a hub for Alternative Methods of Dispute Resolution (ADR). He explained that the ultimate intention is to make Guyana self-sufficient.

Retired Justice Courtney Abel

“The intention firstly is to build a foundation. And then we also have in relation to our cadre of arbitrators now, we have to invest in training more arbitrators so that we can become more self-sufficient. Arbitration is dictated by the free market. If clients want an arbitrator from South Africa or India, they are free to bring them.”
“The aim is to keep it in Guyana. Of course, you also have the risk of them taking it elsewhere. But we will try, using other means and mechanisms, to prevent that as far as possible from occurring, so that Guyana remains the hub. The ultimate intention is to create Guyana as a self-sufficient arbitration hub in this hemisphere.”
During a recent panel discussion hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Guyana that dealt with the rule of law and foreign investment, Nandlall had revealed that his Chamber is the currently reviewing the Arbitration Act.
“Right now, we are examining the arbitration architecture to make it modern and there is a model legislation promulgated in the world and we are in the process of adjusting it to meet Guyana’s expectations and to also link it to the Judiciary while at the same time having arbitration as a process available to the parties outside of the legal system if it does not wish to go into the formal legal system,” he had said.
“So you have a hybrid arbitration system – one that is integrated and forms part of the judicial process and one that is wholly independent of the judicial process. The contracts now, they say that if there is a dispute between the parties including the Government of Guyana, they have to go to Brussels or London or New York or Texas to resolve these disputes. We can resolve them right here by arbitration once we put the requisite mechanisms in place and the statutory framework in place that is modern and responsive as those in the destinations chosen by these contracts,” the AG had explained.
Nandlall said also that arbitration is one of the means of alternative procedures to the Judiciary and that his office is also working on a new dispensation to deal with mediation. Now, in every contract – particularly those with the oil and gas companies – there are arbitration clauses and the AG related that once the clause is included, it means that the matter will have to go to arbitration and then delay the dispute through the process.
He had reminded that Guyana’s arbitration structure is over 5 decades old, archaic and cannot meet the demands of new and dynamic industries.