The most notable functions of the Nairobi Centre for International Arbitration include:
• promoting and encouraging international commercial arbitration;
• administering domestic and international arbitration, as well as other alternative dispute resolution (ADR) techniques, under its auspices;
• developing internal rules encompassing conciliation and mediation processes; and
• coordinating and facilitating, in collaboration with other lead agencies and non-state actors, the formulation of national policies, laws and action plans on alternative dispute resolution, and facilitating their implementation, enforcement, review, monitoring and evaluation.
Other functions include:
• organising international conferences, seminars and training programmes for arbitrators and scholars;
• maintaining proactive cooperation with other regional and international institutions in areas relevant to achieving the centre's objectives;
• facilitating, conducting, promoting and coordinating research and dissemination of findings on arbitration data, and serving as repository of such data in collaboration with other public and private agencies;
• establishing a comprehensive library specialising in arbitration and ADR and providing ad hoc arbitration by facilitating the parties with necessary technical and administrative assistance at the behest of the parties; and
• providing advice and assistance for the enforcement and translation of arbitral awards and advice to disputants.
Board of directors
The centre shall be administered by a board of directors, including:
• five members appointed by the cabinet secretary who do not occupy a public office and have been nominated by domestic arbitration bodies within the East Africa region;
• one person nominated from the Law Society of Kenya, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance and the registrar respectively; and
• the attorney general, the principal secretary in the ministry responsible for matters relating to justice, the chief registrar of the High Court or their respective representatives.
A primary responsibility placed on the board by the act is to make rules that will, among other things, govern arbitration proceedings generally, assist in the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards and specify the procedure for filing applications to have arbitral awards set aside.
Lengthy and expensive court procedures have become the norm in Kenyan courts. As a result, it is common practice for major international companies setting up in Nairobi to include clauses for the resolution of disputes via arbitration in other international destinations, such as London or Mauritius. It therefore comes as no surprise that one of the priorities of the centre is to ensure that arbitration is reserved as the dispute resolution process of choice. The enactment of this new law could lead to Nairobi being viewed as a neutral hub in which international companies can come to settle disputes of a commercial nature in a just and quick manner.
The array of experience, legal and otherwise, represented on the board of directors intimates that the rules that it is mandated by the act to create will provide a more standardised form of resolving disputes, and will make the general arbitration process in Nairobi faster and more credible. Additionally, the fact that one of the functions of the centre is to be actively involved in the training of arbitrators, as well as providing assistance in enforcing awards, suggests that there will be increased confidence in arbitration. A likely outcome is that fewer awards will be challenged in court. It is clear that the centre will not only help to improve the way that ADR is carried out in Kenya, but will also have economic benefits, as it should help toadvance Nairobi's image as a regional financial hub and increase its attractiveness as a viable investment destination for international investors.
For further information on this topic please contact Joyce Wambora at Njoroge Regeru & Company by telephone (+254 20 271 8482), fax (+254 20 271 8485) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).