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Court of Justice Explores International Arbitration

The COMESA Court of Justice has embarked on a programme to train its Judges in international arbitration so that they can use arbitration as a way of quickly resolving disputes brought before the Court.

The Judge President of the Court, Hon. Nzamba Kitonga, has said that arbitration is the way to go for most courts in the region and beyond and COMESA should not be left behind.

“Arbitration is the second methodology being used to resolve disputes outside the formal litigation process of the courts. It is quicker and helps all parties save on time and resources. I urge my fellow judges in the COMESA Court to embrace this system,” Hon. Kitonga said.

He was speaking in Lusaka on 11 June 2014 at the opening of the training in international arbitration for the Judges of the Court. The training was conducted by Prof. Won Lemma Kidane and Dr Zewdineh Beyene Haile of Addis Arbitration Group, an international arbitration centre based in Washington DC with a branch in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

International arbitration is a leading method for resolving disputes arising from commercial agreements and other international relationships. The practice has developed so as to allow parties from different legal and cultural backgrounds to resolve their disputes, generally without the formalities of their respective legal systems.

International arbitration has enjoyed growing popularity around the world with business and other users over the past 50 years. There are a number of reasons that parties elect to have their international disputes resolved through arbitration.

These include the desire to avoid the uncertainties and local practices associated with litigation in national courts, the desire to obtain a quicker, more efficient decision, the relative enforceability of arbitration agreements and arbitral awards (as contrasted with forum selection clauses and national court judgments), the commercial expertise of arbitrators, the parties’ freedom to select and design the arbitral procedures, confidentiality and other benefits.

Article 28 of the COMESA Treaty confers jurisdiction on the Court to hear arbitration matters as specified in the said Article. The second phase of the training for the Judges will take place in July.

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