Dispute Settlement Workshop, 26 May 2014
The Trade Law Centre (tralac) hosted a small workshop on dispute settlement, focusing specifically on trade-related disputes, on 26 May 2014 in Cape Town. The aim was to consider trade related disputes from a private sector perspective; to assess what challenges businesses face in our region, and to identify alternative dispute settlement options.
Cross-border commerce and trade are vital for the health of the economies of African nations. This involves the implementation of a number of regional trade agreements and protocols which purport to be rules-based. The implementation of the rules is, however, problematic. Private parties (the real traders) have considerable difficulty to enforce their rights and to obtain effective remedies. Their governments of nationality do not litigate against each other and regional courts/tribunals do not, as a rule, allow them standing.
This tralac workshop brought together experts, officials, private sector representatives and lawyers from the southern African region to discuss the technical issues, recent cases and possible solutions. The relevant SADC legal instruments were examined and negotiations about new free trade agreements in southern and eastern Africa mentioned. The objective was to explain the relevant principles and institutions and to discuss the way forward.
Practical issues of interest to government officials, legal practitioners and firms involved in regional litigation, trade and commerce were also addressed.