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Chief Justice of Sierra Leone, Desmond Babatunde Edwards

The Chief Justice of Sierra Leone, Desmond Babatunde Edwards, has disclosed that Sierra Leone is now an attractive place for doing business despite the challenges posed by the dreadful CoronaVirus pandemic.

The Hon. Chief Justice was speaking on the New York Convention and the Enforcement of Arbitral Awards after Sierra Leone’s Accession to the New York Convention.  The Sierra Leone Bar Association and the Center organized the workshop for International Law and Policy in Africa on 25th February 2021. 

According to Justice Edwards, Sierra Leone has made worthy and notable achievements including joining the New York Convention. 

“On the 26th January 2021, Sierra Leone became the 166th Member of the UN Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards – known as the New York Convention of 1958, after depositing its 3rd Instrument, the Instrument of Accession on the 28th October 2020 with the Secretary-General of the UN pursuant to Article 12 (2) of the UN Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards and 90 days thereafter it became a member,” he said. He added: “Sierra Leone being put forward as an attractive place for doing business will not be complete unless and until the New York Convention is domesticated and the Arbitration Bill is made an Act with further and necessary amendments if need be.”

In her welcome address, the Chairperson of the occasion, who doubles as President of the Sierra Leone Bar association, Madam Eddinia Swallow, said the workshop brought together national and international stakeholders to share knowledge, experience and best practice.

She said the New York Convention constituted two fundamental principles that have revolutionized the resolution of a dispute with international elements – the enforcement of arbitrational instrument and enforcement of additional Law.  She went on to say that more than 150 countries have ratified the convention with huge benefits from tangible investments.

In his keynote address, the  Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Anthony Brewah, said the New York Convention seeks to provide common legislative standards for the recognition of arbitration, agreements, court recognition and enforcement of foreign and non-domestic arbitral awards. 

Minister Brewah said the convention principles aimed at ensuring that foreign and domestic arbitral awards are not discriminated against, rather it obliges parties to ensure enforcement in their jurisdiction.

Brewah added that the Government of Sierra Leone is certain that the proposed Arbitration Act will address a number of issues that were either lacking or not dealt with adequately by CAP 25 of the Laws of Sierra Leone 1960.

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