JMiles & Co. in collaboration with the ALN Academy and Anjarwalla & Khanna held a successful two day workshop on the Emerging Realities of International Arbitration in Africa from 24-25 July 2018 in Nairobi. The well-attended workshop was graced by a high quality panel of guest speakers, comprising senior representatives of established and emerging arbitral centres, senior judges, seasoned practitioners and academics from national, regional and international jurisdictions.
Key highlights of the conference included the discussion on the setting up of arbitral centres in Africa and what qualities would make them succeed in the field of arbitration. It emerged that there was acute awareness of the need for the consistent delivery of excellence both in terms of institutional services and arbitrator/practitioner performance. That there was a need for greater diversity in international arbitration, was self-evident and naturally the consensus was that this needs to be addressed robustly, proactively, at the institutional levels, but also at the practitioner levels. The practitioner client relationship was seen as playing a significant role in the choices being made as to venue and/or arbitrator. That said, there was equal recognition that quality of service is paramount in the attainment of just outcomes and legitimacy.
It was noted that in Europe there is currently a re-thinking and recasting process underway, vis a vis, how best to ensure that relevant and holistic considerations are at play in the administration and determination of investor disputes concerning EU States. That this was timely, given the discussions on the right to regulate and related concerns across Africa regarding how best to approach investor disputes involving African states. This is a very live subject and was seen as an area to keep abreast of, given the implications the outcomes will have in this field of law.
The discussions on digital solutions, as was anticipated, was hotly debated. An important and general point that came through on the day was that technology must serve specific purposes and must never become the master or the aim itself. How the various technological developments will be managed remains to be seen and particularly how legal regimes globally attempt to keep up with the pace of change. That said, some of the examples of the digital tools being deployed, for example on case management, translation, transcription and court presentation aids, were extremely compelling as to their effectiveness in administering efficient judicial processes at all levels.