ICCA 2016 Congress Roadshows :: Cairo, 14 June 2015

First stop on the road to Mauritius: Cairo

by Dr. Mohamed Abdel Raouf

The first in a series of five pre-Congress Roadshows was held in Cairo on 14 June 2015 at Sofitel el-Gezira Hotel. The event attracted 100 participants from across the entire arbitration community in Egypt (lawyers, law professors, judges at the Egyptian Courts of Cassation and Appeal, the Egyptian Ministry of Justice and Counselors from the Egyptian State Lawsuits Authority) and included delegates from Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Guinea.

The Roadshow program commenced with a welcome speech by His Excellency Mr. Vish Cheetoo, the Chargé d’affaires of the Republic of Mauritius in Cairo, who provided details about the Republic of Mauritius and the 2008 Mauritius International Arbitration Act.

Counselor Amin El Mahdi, former Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Transitional Justice in Egypt, then delivered the opening speech, which explored the definition of the rule of law that includes legal certainty and fairness of the legal process. He highlighted the role of the international arbitration community in making arbitration an instrument of the rule of law by inter alia adopting rules on transparency and amicus curiae in investor-state arbitrations and by fighting corruption.

In the first session titled “International Arbitration and the Rule of Law, Dr. Mohamed Abdel Raouf, Director of CRCICA and Vice-President of ICCA, indicated that the emergence of arbitration centers in Africa has contributed to the rule of law by diversifying the available arbitral fora (by making institutional arbitration more accessible, affordable and familiar to African users), in addition to promoting best arbitral practices (through efficient administration of arbitration proceedings, cooperation between arbitral institutions and sometimes innovating new concepts and provisions).

Mr. Farouk El Hosseny, Legal Counsel, Permanent Court of Arbitration (“PCA”), gave a brief introduction to the PCA, its presence in Mauritius and its Secretary-General’s role under the 2008 Mauritius International Arbitration Act. He then covered some PCA-administered investment arbitration cases in which the notion of the rule of law was at stake, such as the Yukos and Bilcon of Delaware cases. He also discussed Lord Bingham’s “Eight Principles of the Rule of Law.”

The second session on International Arbitration in Africa” was opened by Mr. Duncan Bagshaw, Registrar, LCIA-MIAC, who explained the key indicators of the development of international arbitration in Africa. Some divergences, however, exist between the provisions of the laws of different African jurisdictions, even where inspired by the Model Law, and in their application. He concluded by asking n whether a future harmonization of laws and the creation of a body of Africa-specific jurisprudence are possible.

Mr. Sami Houerbi, Lawyer and Director ICC Arbitration and ADR, Tunis-Dubai, addressed the strengths, weaknesses and threats to arbitration in North Africa. Among the strengths figured the increasingly positive approach of the judiciary towards arbitration and the development of North African law firms.  The most important weakness were the limited involvement of North African arbitrators in international arbitration where no African parties are involved, the reluctance to agree on arbitration seats in North Africa, and the weak role played by the majority of the African arbitral institutions. The main threats he identified were the political situation and the economic recession.

In his speech, Dr. Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Professor at Cairo University and founding partner Zulficar and Partners, focused on the level of economic growth in Africa and the percentage of FDI it receives (3.7% of the global inflows). He highlighted the great number of BITs signed by many African states. However, risks related to corruption, lack of legal certainty, policy reversals, poor infrastructure, macro-economic volatility are hindering the economic growth and foreign investments. He concluded that in addition to the existing legal cultures, a third arbitration culture is now being created.

In the third session dedicated to “ICCA and the ICCA Congress 2016, Dr. Mohamed Abdel Raouf provided an overview of the history of ICCA and  its events, publications and projects. Together with Ahmed Hussein, Registrar of the BCDR, they officially launched the Arabic version of ICCA’s Guide for the interpretation of the 1958 New York Convention.

Duncan Bagshaw closed the Roadshow by highlighting some details pertaining to the 2016 ICCA Congress in Mauritius and invited the attendees to participate in the first ICCA Congress to be held in Africa.

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Roadshow Presentations