Virtual New York Convention Roadshow for the Tanzanian Judiciary
Following the entry into force of the new Tanzanian Arbitration Act, Cap 15 Revised Edition 2020 in January 2021 (the Arbitration Act 2020), the event sought to provide the judiciary with an introduction to international commercial arbitration, background on the legislative reform process leading to the enactment of the Arbitration Act 2020, an overview of the English Arbitration Act 1996 on which the Tanzanian Arbitration Act 2020 is modelled, and an overview of the New York Convention, concluding with the regime for enforcement of agreements and awards in Tanzania. The event gathered a panel of leading experts in the field, including two Tanzanian practitioners, and was co-hosted by ICCA, the African Arbitration Association (AfAA), and the ICC Africa Commission, in collaboration with the Institute for Judicial Administration Lushoto (IJA).
Justice Paul F. Kihwelo, judge of the High Court of Tanzania and Principal of the IJA, welcomed participants and conveyed regards from the Chief Justice of Tanzania, Ibrahim Hamis Juma, noting the special character of the virtual event as the first of its kind specially designed for the Tanzanian judiciary.
Prof. Lise Bosman, Executive Director of ICCA and Board Member of AfAA, welcomed participants on behalf of the two organizations and provided a brief overview of their work. She presented the objectives of ICCA’s Judicial Outreach Programme dating back to its inception in 2012 and referred judges to ICCA’s Yearbook Commercial Arbitration, a compendium of over 2,500 national court decisions published since 1976 from approximately 100 jurisdictions on the enforcement of arbitral awards under the New York Convention. With respect to AfAA, Prof. Bosman described it as an organization created to promote African arbitration and African arbitrators and described its activities that aim to contribute to the “undoubted renaissance of arbitral practice across the continent”. Ms. Diamana Diawara, Director of ICC Arbitration and ICC Africa Commission Secretary, spoke briefly about the ICC, highlighting the presence on the panel of ICC Vice-President Prof. Dr. Mohamed Abdel Wahab, ICC Court Member Ms. Madeline Kimei, and ICC Africa Commission Inaugural President Ms. Ndanga Kamau, whose work at the head of the Commission led to fruitful collaborations between the ICC and ICCA on projects such as this Roadshow and others. Ms. Diawara ensued with an introduction to international commercial arbitration, with an emphasis on the role of national courts in the arbitral process.
Next, Ms. Madeline Kimei, President of the Tanzanian Institute of Arbitrators and Founder and CEO of iResolve™, took participants through the reform process of the legal framework of international arbitration in Tanzania, starting from the original arbitral legislation of 1932 to the Arbitration Act 2020, noting the interest and consultation of stakeholders in the drafting of the new Act. Ms. Jane Davies Evans, Barrister, Arbitrator and Vice-Chair of the International Advisory and Dispute Resolution Unit, 3 VB (London), followed with a comparative analysis of the Tanzanian Arbitration Act 2020 and the English Arbitration Act 1996, on which the former is based. The similarities and differences she identified between the two acts included provisions on the arbitration agreement, the arbitral tribunal and on the powers of courts in relation to challenges to arbitral awards. She drew on English case law to identify how English jurisprudence may assist Tanzanian courts in building up their case law on the interpretation of similar provisions in the Tanzanian Arbitration Act 2020.
Building on this foundation, Prof. Dr. Mohamed Abdel Wahab of Cairo University and Governing Board Member of ICCA, canvassed the provisions of the New York Convention and their application in practice, noting that the “success, support and international outlook of a jurisdiction in support of arbitration falls squarely on the shoulders of the judiciary”. He identified a “golden opportunity” for Tanzania to bring itself on par with leading jurisdictions in Africa. Finally, Dr. Wilbert Kapinga, Managing Partner of Bowmans Tanzania, honed in on the enforcement of agreements and awards in Tanzania pursuant to the Tanzanian Arbitration Act 2020 and its accompanying regulations, including the courts responsible for receiving such applications and the grounds on which enforcement may be denied.
The presentations were followed by a Q&A session moderated by Ms. Diawara, during which the panellists answered questions posed by participants. The participants were equipped with hard copies of ICCA’s Guide to the Interpretation of the 1958 New York Convention, now available for free on ICCA’s website in 26 languages.
ICCA thanks AfAA and the ICC Africa Commission for jointly hosting the webinar. Special thanks are owed to Judge Kihwelo for his role in organizing this event and to Ms. Ndanga Kamau, President of the ICC Africa Commission, for facilitating this event.