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Attorney General pushes for vibrant commercial arbitration

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Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda

Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda has said Malawi is currently in the process of domesticating and operationalising some international treaties that will pave the way for vibrant commercial arbitration in the country.

Nyirenda was speaking in Mangochi Friday on the sidelines of the first ever Intentional Commercial Arbitration Seminar which was organised the Malawi Law Society and Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) Lawyers Association.

Nyirenda observed that there are a lot of cases which are stalling at the commercial courts which could have been handled with speed if they were to be handled by Commercial Arbitrators, as is the case in some countries.

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“But also, government is spending a lot of money is handling commercial disputes at the judiciary. These cases can be removed from the court to be handled by arbitrators if we operationalise all the required laws,” he said.

The AG said at the moment, government has ratified a New York convention on arbitration which Malawi Government signed.

This, Nyirenda said, is an indication that the government wants to have a conducive environment which can help both local and international commercial entities to start using arbitrators when handling their disputes.

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“With these steps, we can say that we are moving at par with our counterparts across the borders. Having a recognised arbitration process in place can also help in attracting foreign direct investment because investors do have confidence that disputes might be handled with speed if they arise,” he said.

Nyirenda also said his office and the Ministry of Justice will be working towards taking to Parliament a new Arbitration Act which will replace the current Act which was enacted in 1923 modelled around the British Arbitration Act.

Chief Executive Officer for Sadc Lawyers Association Stanley Nyamandindi, urged the legal fraternity in Malawi to improve on coordination with the regional lawyers to make commercial arbitration recognised by the private sector in the country and abroad.

“The seminars will help to build skills among local lawyers which will in the end attract investment into the country. At the moment, the Malawi lawyers are already on top of their game, but they need to coordinate so that they can win trust from international companies,” he said.

Currently, Malawi has only five commercial judges who handle commercial arbitration.

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