12 January 2016
Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), SciencesPo Law School Paris and ICDR Y&I jointly organised a conference on “Arbitration in Africa” in Paris. Panellists from arbitral institutions, law firms, industry and academia discussed trends in arbitration proceedings on the African continent.
A first panel, moderated by QMUL’s Maxi Scherer, focussed on international commercial arbitration and addressed, among other things, issues relating to recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards in African jurisdictions and sovereign immunity of States. Tunde Ogunseitan, Counsel at the ICC International Court of Arbitration, Paris, presented the institutional perspective, while Benoit Lebars, of Lazareff Le Bars law firm looked at the issues from the viewpoint of the counsel or arbitrator. Jean-Claude Najar, of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, former general counsel of a major energy company, commented taking into account the views of clients and users of international arbitration.
A second panel addressed investment arbitration in Africa, under the moderation of Diego Fernández Arroyo, SciencesPo Law School. Discussants included Makane Mbengue of the University of Geneva, Isaiah Bozimo of Ikwueto law firm and Emilia Onyema of SOAS Law School, London. Among other things, the panel reflected upon the perceptions African countries have towards international investment arbitration and its possible alternatives. In a lively debate with the audience, the panellists also considered possible future instruments, such as a Pan-African Investment Code.
Isaiah Bozimo, a QMUL alumni and now a practicing lawyer in Abuja, Nigeria, commented about his experience as a speaker: “It was great to see an excellent turn-out for this event, and the attendees were clearly very interested in the topic of arbitration in Africa.”
Maxi Scherer, the Director of QMUL’s LLM programme in Paris added: “We have a very strong number of students from African countries in our LLM programmes, both in London and in Paris, and therefore are delighted to host a conference on this optic. We are also grateful to our sponsor, the law firm Lazareff Le Bars, for kindly supporting us this evening.”
Tunde Ogunseitan, Counsel at the ICC International Court of Arbitration, congratulated the organizers of the conference: “It was a great pleasure to participate in this very topical and important event and to see such a lively debate.”