Zambia is a step closer to seeing a much needed international dispute resolution centre after a funding workshop in Lusaka last week. Overwhelming support for the initiative came from local and international governments, civil society organisations, as well as business representatives.
The Zambian Dispute Resolution Centre will provide mediation, adjudication and arbitration services to the greater Zambian business community. The initiative is a result of a partnership between the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) Zambia Branch and the Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI).
“We are encouraged by the feedback we received at our event. The attendees were not only supportive of the idea, but will be further engaging with both ourselves and ZACCI to take the next practical steps in securing funding to set up the Centre,” explains Justice William Mweemba, Chairman, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Zambia Branch.
According to the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank, court access in sub-Saharan Africa falls below the global average. Not only does it take longer for cases to come before the court, but the costs of resolving cases in the region are significantly higher than the global average.
“Alternate dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms enhance access to justice. ADR enables rapid, consent-based solutions to disputes at a much lower cost. In turn, this helps foster business certainty which will help us attract foreign direct investments and will also further reduce risk for local businesses in our country,” comments Mr. Geoffrey Sakulanda, President of ZACCI.
The meeting was well attended by all relevant stakeholders including the Zambian Ministry of Justice and the ambassadors of Germany and Sweden. Other high-level parties included officials from a number of embassies, including the British High Commission, the US Embassy, the Japanese Embassy, USAID and the United Nations Development Programme.
“The calibre of attendees is indicative of the importance of this initiative. Zambia has already taken a number of steps to create a climate that is conducive to the promotion of alternate dispute resolution. Future work will include lobbying to amend the Arbitration Act to offer greater support for international arbitration; the introduction of a Mediation Act; and introducing statutory adjudication. With the support of the Ministry of Justice, we believe this is possible. Zambia has outstanding legal skills and, with further stakeholder cooperation, we will be fully aligned with the finest international best practice,” comments Justice Mweemba.
The Zambia Dispute Resolution Centre operations will reside with ZACCI, following the global trend to have international centres housed within chambers of commerce. Oversight and strategic guidance will come from the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Zambia branch.
“It’s imperative to be able to offer ADR services to our business community which are of the highest standard within a neutral environment. We see the Centre as not only adding to the services offered by ZACCI, but as of national importance. The ability to make and enforce contracts is a fundamental requirement for trade to flourish,” adds Mr. Sakulanda.
The funding workshop for the creation of the Zambia Dispute Resolution Centre was made possible by the support of the Chamber of Skilled Crafts (Handwerkskammer) Frankfurt Rhein-Main.
Organisations wishing to know more about the Centre or its services can contact the Zambia Chamber of Commerce on firstname.lastname@example.org or call +260 211 252 483