ADR instruments of UNCITRAL imperative for doing business and enhancing access to justice in Asia and the Pacific region, experts tell webinar

Bangladesh International Arbitration Centre (BIAC), the first and only registered Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) institution of the country organised its 13th webinar on 8 April 2021 on ‘’Regional Perspective of UNCITRAL ADR Instruments on Ease of Doing Business in Asia and the Pacific”, jointly with the Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific (RCAP), based in Incheon, Republic of Korea (ROK) of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). Established by the UN General Assembly in 1966, UNCITRAL plays an important role in developing the framework to progressive harmonisation of the law of international trade.

Taking part in the deliberations an eminent Panel of Speakers from Bangladesh and ROK including Government officials, bankers, academicians and UNCITRAL RCAP legal experts suggested that the UNCITRAL ADR instruments are now imperative for doing business and enhancing access to justice as a means for Bangladesh and Asia and the Pacific region to promote and strengthen a legally enabling environment for facilitating cross border trade.

Chairman of the BIAC Board Mahbubur Rahman, who is also President of International Chamber of Commerce-Bangladesh, in his Closing Remarks said that the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration is a unique law prepared by the UNCITRAL and adopted by the United Nations which is designed to assist States to take into account the particular features and needs of international commercial arbitration. He said that both the World Bank’s Global Doing Business Index and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ease of Doing Business initiatives are dedicated within the Asia Pacific region to assess and improve regulatory environments of the countries to make doing business cheaper, faster and easier. Enforcing contracts including the adoption and implementation of UNCITRAL texts of ADR are essential components in this regard, Rahman categorised.

In his Welcome Address Chief Executive Officer of BIAC Muhammad A. (Rumee) Ali said that hosting a webinar jointly with the UNCITRAL RCAP is very important in the context of international trade, ADR instruments of UNCITRAL including the New York Convention 1958 on Arbitration and the Singapore Convention on Mediation 2018 and the accompanying UNCITRAL model laws and rules which offer legislative and contractual guidance to facilitate the resolution of commercial disputes across borders. He insisted on institutional, not ad hoc ADR to be practiced in this region and offered BIAC’s Rules for institutionalised Arbitration and Mediation to resolve commercial disputes.

Head of UNCITRAL RCAP Athita Komindr also delivered Welcome Address on behalf of her organisation and favoured using UNCITRAL texts in providing basic legal framework for doing business including enforcing contracts. She opined that Bangladesh should sign the Singapore Convention on Mediation for easier access to justice. She urged upon availability of pragmatic ADR mechanism for reducing judicial backlog.

Barrister Rashna Imam, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh and Managing Partner, Akhtar Imam & Associates, Dhaka moderated the webinar. In course of discussion she attracted attention of revising Arbitration Act 2001 to help ADR flourish which is imperative for Bangladesh, particularly in view of backlog of cases in courts.

Taking part in the discussion Panellist Kazi Arifuzzaman, Joint Secretary, Legislative & Parliamentary Affairs Division, Ministry of Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs, Government of Bangladesh laid emphasis on a good legal and regulatory framework to facilitate indicators like starting business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading cross borders and enforcing contracts. He maintained that all these will promote a sustainable and inclusive business environment in Bangladesh.

Changwan Han, Director, International Dispute Settlement Division, Ministry of Justice, Republic of Korea spoke on the occasion as a Panellist and said that the office of Foreign Investment Ombudsmen in ROK has been working for legislative improvement and ROK is now on way to implementation of the Singapore Mediation Convention. He insisted on concerted efforts on conciliation and mediation to settle cross border disputes.

Humaira Azam, Managing Director & CEO (In-Charge), Trust Bank Limited, Dhaka in her deliberations suggested that in all business contracts there should be an institutional ADR clause, as trade pattern has changed word wide and we need enforcing contracts clause in all bilateral and multilateral business transactions. She favoured adoption of Singapore Convention on Mediation by the Government of Bangladesh.

Eun Young Nam, Legal Expert of UNCITRAL RCAP, ROK stressed the need of contract based and treaty based arbitration while giving an overview of UNCITRAL arbitration texts. She said that countries of the region may be benefitted by using citation of 725 cases from 37 countries codified in the UNCITRAL Digest on Model Law.

Panellist Dr. Jamila A. Chowdhury, Professor, Department of Law, University of Dhaka in her deliberations said that the UNCITRAL promoted its Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration with a post modern view that allowed national Governments to introduce variations in their respective national laws. She maintained that it also widened the scope of judicial activism by competent national courts to interpret laws and opined that setting more uniform international legal norms is the order of the day.

Jenny Hui, Legal Expert of UNCITRAL RCAP, ROK in her deliberations opined that Bangladesh’s joining the Singapore Convention on Mediation will help her achieve benefits of an efficient and harmonised legal framework for resolution of cross border trade disputes.

Director of BIAC M A Akmall Hossain Azad also joined the webinar. The programme was streamed live on FACEBOOK page and LinkedIn profile of BIAC. The daily Bonik Barta was the media partner of the event.