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Sierra Leone Parliament Approves New Arbitration Legislation – Arbitration & Dispute Resolution



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Further to its accession to the New York Convention in 2020
(discussed in our blog post
here
), Sierra Leone’s House of Parliament has approved a
new arbitration law. The Arbitration Act 2022 bill was introduced
to the House by the Deputy Minister of Justice, Hon.
Umaru Napoleon Koroma
on 2 August 2022. The legislation now
awaits signature by the President of Sierra Leone.

The Arbitration Act 2022 will replace and update the existing
Sierra Leonean arbitration law, contained predominantly in Chapter
25 of the Laws of Sierra Leone 1960 (the 1960
Act
). The 1960 Act was based on the English Arbitration
Act 1950, but does not reflect any amendments made since, including
those reflected in the English Arbitration Act 1996.

The new Act was initially developed by Sierra Leone’s Law
Reform Commission, and reviewed by a team of arbitration
specialists at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP. In 2021, Professor
Abayomi Okubote
and the Africa Arbitration Academy further
developed the draft, and the final bill was agreed by the
Government and presented to the House of Parliament.

The Arbitration Act 2022 intends to give force of law to Sierra
Leone’s obligations under the New York Convention 1958 and to
provide a modern arbitration framework for the country. As well as
addressing key arbitration principles, the Arbitration Act 2022
tackles more recent developments, such as third party funding, and
provides a legislative basis for the establishment of the Sierra
Leone International Arbitration Centre.

Arbitration has been gaining momentum in Sierra Leone over the
past few years. Freetown’s legal community boasts a number of
experienced international arbitration practitioners and Sierra
Leone has already taken practical steps to lay the groundwork for
the further development of domestic and international arbitration.
In particular, Andrew Cannon, Partner and Hannah Ambrose, Senior
Associate have delivered training on international arbitration to
key legal stakeholders in Freetown on a number of occasions in
recent years, including as part of the long term partnership
between the UK-Sierra Leone Pro Bono Network and the Judicial and
Legal Training Institute of the Sierra Leone judiciary. Sierra
Leone’s Hon. Chief Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards has been a
strong backer of the reform of arbitration law, including in his
recent
keynote address
to the Africa Arbitration Academy
Conference.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP has been honoured to assist Sierra
Leone in connection with this development as part of its Fair Deal
Sierra Leone pro bono programme, and congratulates all who have
been involved in the Sierra Leone Arbitration Act 2022 on this
significant achievement.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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