House Begins Debate on Arbitration Bill

Photo: Michael Sloley Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, opens debate on the Arbitration Bill in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (January 10).

Story Highlights

  • Debate on the Arbitration Bill, which seeks to provide an effective non-judicial mechanism for settling disputes between contracting parties, got under way in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (January 10).
  • The legislation is based on the provisions of the Model Law published by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and will operate in conjunction with the provisions of The Arbitration (Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Awards) Act as well as the Investment Disputes Awards (Enforcement) Act.
  • Debate on the Bill is set to continue in the Lower House.

Debate on the Arbitration Bill, which seeks to provide an effective non-judicial mechanism for settling disputes between contracting parties, got under way in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (January 10).

The Bill, which will repeal the Arbitration Act 1900, was piloted by Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck.

The legislation is based on the provisions of the Model Law published by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and will operate in conjunction with the provisions of The Arbitration (Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Awards) Act as well as the Investment Disputes Awards (Enforcement) Act.

In his contribution to the debate, Mr. Chuck said with the passing of the Bill, Jamaica will join the large number of countries that have adopted the Model Law and, as such, will benefit from the internationally agreed best practices that are disseminated and promoted by UNCITRAL.

The Model Law has been accepted in more than 70 countries worldwide and over 100 jurisdictions.

Mr. Chuck noted that Jamaica has been plodding along with an outdated arbitration regime that does not have the confidence of investors.

“The Government of Jamaica is committed to sustainable economic development for the country. Investors need to feel assured that they are conducting business in an economically stable environment,” he said.

“The legal risks inherent in transactional business ventures (particularly cross-border commercial arrangements) demand a settlement dispute mechanism that is expedient, cognisant of emerging trends and that operates at a highly modernised level,” he added.

Mr. Chuck noted further that international arbitration is chosen as the preferred dispute-resolution process for cross-border disputes, because arbitration awards are enforceable under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention) in more than 148 countries around the world.

Jamaica ratified the New York Convention in July, 2002.

Mr. Chuck explained that judgements of local domestic courts are not as readily enforceable and, in many jurisdictions, the judgement of a court from another jurisdiction cannot be enforced without a rerun of the trial.

Under arbitration, the parties to the dispute usually agree on the arbitrator(s) whom they will trust to operate in a fair and impartial manner.

In addition, the dispute will be quickly resolved, as a date for the arbitration can usually be obtained a lot faster than a court date. This would also contribute to a reduction of matters that go through the courts.

Clause two of the Bill indicates that the Act applies to domestic and international commercial arbitration, and is subject to any agreement in force between Jamaica and any other State.

Clause seven says a party in an arbitration dispute is deemed to have waived his right if he does not, in a timely manner, raise an objection concerning non-compliance with the Act or the relevant arbitration agreement.

Meanwhile, clause eight states that the court can only intervene in arbitration matters where the Act provides, and clause nine stipulates the areas of the Act for which the court’s assistance would be required.

Debate on the Bill is set to continue in the Lower House.

JIS Social