The Kigali International Arbitration Centre (KIAC) is organizing a regional workshop dubbed “Arbitration in East African Community: from law o practice” which will take place from the 24rd to the 25th of May with the aim of creating a recognizable slot Rwanda in the arbitration profession in the region.
Having been in practice now for a year, KIAC has had a good experience in the profession and hopes to share this with other practitioners from the East African Community (EAC) and beyond. The sharing of experience will be done in a bid to ensure that Rwanda is recognized as a good destination for the services of arbitration.
Currently KIAC is mainly practicing commercial arbitration and given Rwanda’s efforts to ensuring a good business climate which has led it to becoming the 3rd easiest place to do business in Africa, Bernadette Uwicyeza the Secretary General of the centre noted that the role of arbitration in bettering investment climate is one that cannot be disregarded. Mainly, the practice of arbitration in solving business disagreements ensures that the public image of the parties involved are not hurt as the case would be when a given company is said to be in legal business battles in courts.
For instance any company that finds itself in misunderstandings with another or contractual partners and has to battle the cases through traditional commercial courts suffers a depreciation of its good will in the market. Such happenings affect the multinationals that Rwanda targets to entice to invest in the country more easily and strongly. However through arbitration, the disputes are settled amicably without causing such damages to the parties involved.
In the EAC Rwanda’s centre for arbitration KIAC is the first of its kind which acts independently but complementarily with the courts of law.
The conference will be graced by the presence of His Lordship the Chief Justice of Rwanda Prof. Sam Rugege and this fact KIAC finds it as a vote of confidence that the Rwandan judiciary has in this form of dispute resolution.
Over the period of one year that KIAC has been in operation, the centre has been blessed to have already started receiving having recorded 15 cases four of which had the necessities to be worked on by the centre and are still being processed while the rest lacked the consent of the involved parties to use the arbitration process.
For a dispute to be settled by arbitration the involved parties should first have consented to have disagreements taken care of arbitrators instead of courts of law.
However it is clear that more efforts need to be made to inform Rwandans about the work of arbitration in civil disputes and particularly commercial ones and the requirements that contractual parties need to have before seeking this form of justice.
Besides discussing the status of the arbitration profession in the EAC and sharing experiences on how the International practices of arbitration can be regionalized, the conference that KIAC is to organize will give ground for the analysis of the proposed draft billing amending the Rwandan arbitration act of 2008.
Some of the amendments sought after by the bill include having a provision for the legal practice of arbitration in all civil disputes and not only commercial one which is a limitation to the extent that the services of KIAC can go.
In the near future, KIAC plans to organize another international conference which will also be done in the spirit of furthering the recognition of Rwanda as the best destination for arbitration services not only in the EAC and beyond.