Justice (ret’d) Courtney Abel and Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC at an engagement earlier this month

Justice Courtney Abel, a retired judge of the Belizean Supreme Court, says Guyana’s quest to establish itself as an arbitration centre for the Caribbean could dramatically transform its economy.

The Guyana-born jurist, who now resides in the United Kingdom, led a virtual discussion Monday evening on “Guyana – the next arbitration hub: The journey begins.” The webinar was a joint venture by the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Guyana Bar Association.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, said Justice Abel is experienced in the field of arbitration and recently completed a similar successful major project in Belize. He is one of several consultants and experts who will guide Guyana’s journey towards becoming the arbitration hub of the Caribbean.

Justice Abel said arbitration is a special kind of arrangement, in which parties have autonomy and control. He said it provides a disciplined and orderly way in which Guyana’s transformation could take place.

“I have seen how the service industries such as arbitration can powerfully and dramatically transform economies. I am saying that with the Government’s support and with the support of the Bar Association, the Supreme Court and the people, this system of arbitration will be the means by which the economy is transformed,” he told the webinar.

The retired judge said Guyana’s recent ascent to a major oil-producing nation, is among the reasons for the discussion on radical economic transformation. He said disputes arise frequently in the oil sector, and will undoubtedly surface in Guyana.

“Disputes in oil and gas amount to very large numbers and they are expected to grow. They are between commercial companies, investors and states and between states. The subject matters include different issues including contracts, national statutes, international treaties et cetera. The issues raised are all complicated and highly specialised,” he noted.

Guyana is seeking to review the international treaty arrangements related to arbitration, and develop and upgrade the local laws, rules, practices and cultures relative to arbitration. It is also looking to develop training protocols and programmes to establish and maintain international standards of best arbitration practices and cultivate confidence in international investors that the country is a competent, gold standard arbitration venue.

Attorney General Nandlall said Guyana is pursuing a model that could see it becoming the hub of arbitration in the Caribbean and Latin America.

The process will involve the modernisation of Guyana’s Arbitration Act, to address both domestic and international arbitration. The AG said as Guyana emerges as a petroleum nation, it will attract a host of multinational companies. Therefore, the country has to prepare its legal architecture to accommodate the new influx of investors. [Extracted and Modified by DPI]