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Bahamas forms Arbitration Council

The Ministry of Financial Services is creating an arbitration council to help government as it looks to strengthen The Bahamas as one of the top financial centers.

Guardian Business understands that the council will consist of nine members, including representatives from the government and private sector.  Financial Services Minister Ryan Pinder said the plan is to target key industries to assist in the establishment of this historical council.

“We are in the process of creating an arbitration council.  In that council, we will have representatives from the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA), Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA), the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) and the government, including the Ministry of Education.  We want our international trade sector to utilize the arbitration center.  Also, education is going to be a key focus in building that capacity,” according to Pinder.

He made the announcement to those attending yesterday’s Arbitration and Investment Forum at the UBS office complex on East Bay Street.

He noted that his ministry is moving full speed ahead in its efforts to become a recognized arbitration center.

“We are going to have one shot to do it right.  We need to get ahead of our competitors in the region and we need to be known as an international arbitration center in this hemisphere,” Pinder explained.

He confirmed that he has

already been given the “green light” from the prime minister and has since met with a number of principals this week.

“The prime minister has already given me the authorization to proceed in this fashion to expedite the process.  We had a meeting this week with a number of the principals and are preparing the authorization to go to Cabinet,” he shared. “We look to lay out our strategy and how we will make the best and most successful arbitration center and then how we go out and attract disputes.  Do we go to an arbitration institute that’s already in existence, then we say well let’s hold some of your disputes in our center?  That would give us some credibility and profile.  All of that factors into the strategy that this arbitration council will be putting into place.”

The financial services minister pointed out that his ministry, along with other key industry stakeholders, are “actively behind the scenes putting the framework in place”.

“Once the strategy is in place, we then have to create the institution, the body that manages the whole process.  That’s the framework in which we are approaching it,” he said.

Pinder further noted that his ministry. in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, is looking to team up with institutions like the University of Miami’s Arbitration Institute to educate more industry professionals.

“We want them to partner with The College of The Bahamas (COB) and for instance offer a diploma program in arbitration to our practitioners, lawyers, engineers, the judiciary and accountants,” he added.

Pinder said he has plans to hold the first council meeting in two weeks.

Earlier this week, one of the country’s top attorneys told Guardian Business that The Bahamas could strengthen itself as a financial center through the development of arbitration.

“The government is speaking about making The Bahamas an arbitration center, one for alternative dispute resolution.  There’s a new Arbitration Act and amendments to the Trustees Act, which encourages arbitration arising from a trust deed,” according to Dr. Peter Maynard, managing partner of Peter D. Maynard Counsel & Attorneys.  “Now, how do we become tigers of arbitration much like the Pacific tigers that are very strong like Singapore and Hong Kong?  Scandinavian countries like Finland, Denmark and Sweden are all strong in arbitration.  Can The Bahamas and other countries in the region become the Atlantic tiger in the area of arbitration?”

The first council meeting is expected to be held in two weeks.

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