Cases & Deals

OHADA reforms arbitration and mediation laws

Clients Organisation pour l'Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit

Jones Day is advising the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa, OHADA, in reforming its arbitration act and creating a mediation act.

Founded in 1993, OHADA is an international organization based in Yaoundé, Cameroon, grouping together 17 member States from mostly French speaking Central and Western Africa. It aims to promote regional economic development through the harmonization of its Member States' business laws. To date, OHADA has adopted 9 Uniform Acts, which apply in each of its Member States. The Uniform Act on Arbitration adopted in 1999 is one of these acts. OHADA also relies on its regional institutions, including the Common Court of Justice and Arbitration, CCJA, whose Arbitration Rules are also subject to this reform. In November 2017, the 45th Ordinary Session of the OHADA Council of Ministers was held in Conakry, in the Republic of Guinea. The Council, composed of the Ministers of Justice and Finance of each of the 17 OHADA Member States, adopted three texts: the revised Uniform Act on Arbitration Law, the revised Rules of Arbitration of the Common Court of Justice and Arbitration (CCJA), and a new Uniform Act on Mediation, the 10th Uniform Act of OHADA.

The newly adopted texts are the result of an intense reform process. In October 2016, Jones Day first submitted an Evaluation Report to the Permanent Secretary of OHADA that included 30 proposals for the revision of the Uniform Act on Arbitration Law and the Rules of Arbitration of the CCJA, and simultaneously introduced a Uniform Act on Mediation for the OHADA region. These proposals were based on field investigations in the region coupled with a benchmarking analysis of international best practices and a survey sent to more than 1,000 practitioners active in the region.

In early 2017, Jones Day submitted draft texts which have since been reviewed, discussed, and amended by local experts and representatives of the National Commissions of the OHADA Member States, in particular at working sessions held in Abidjan in March and July 2017. A final review of the texts took place at a plenary session of the National Commissions in November 2017 in Conakry and led to revisions reflecting the sovereign decisions of the Member States. The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) also took part in these discussions as technical experts. The draft texts have also been reviewed by the CCJA.

Jones Day is committed to supporting the Member States in the promotion of the new texts and the training of practitioners in the field.