Senate Passes Arbitration Bill

Photo: JIS Photographer Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, speaking in the Senate. (FILE)

Story Highlights

  • The Arbitration Bill, which seeks to provide an effective non-judicial mechanism for settling disputes between contracting parties, was passed in the Senate on Friday (April 21) with 50 amendments.
  • Highlighting some of the benefits of the arbitration process during the opening of the debate recently, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr. pointed out that it will allow for speedy resolution of disputes, as a time for the arbitration can usually be obtained much faster than a court date.
  • The Arbitration Bill is based on the guidelines 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 and the Investment Disputes Awards (Enforcement) Act.

The Arbitration Bill, which seeks to provide an effective non-judicial mechanism for settling disputes between contracting parties, was passed in the Senate on Friday (April 21) with 50 amendments.

The Bill, which is intended to repeal and replace the 1900 Arbitration Act, also seeks to facilitate domestic and international trade and commerce by encouraging the use of arbitration as a method of resolving disputes.

In her contribution to the debate, Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Kamina Johnson Smith, said the legislation will, among other things, present Jamaica as a competitive arbitration location.

“We have to always keep at the forefront of our minds that we are trying to develop an international arbitration forum here. We want it to be business for Jamaica, for people to consider it a good thing to come here and have their businesses arbitrated,” she said.

Highlighting some of the benefits of the arbitration process during the opening of the debate recently, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr. pointed out that it will allow for speedy resolution of disputes, as a time for the arbitration can usually be obtained much faster than a court date.

This, he said, would also contribute to a reduction of matters that go before the courts.

Further, 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.

Senator Charles Jr. said that arbitration can also be a game changer in the settlement of domestic commercial disputes and serve as a major source of foreign exchange earnings from the settlement of international trade matters.

The Arbitration Bill is based on the guidelines 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 and the Investment Disputes Awards (Enforcement) Act.

With its passage, 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 on an ongoing basis.

The Bill was passed in the House of Representatives on January 24.

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