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Unveiling the Future: Malawi's Commitment to Commercial Arbitration Excellence

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On January 23-24, London partners Robert Wheal and James Holden and associate Opeyemi Longe delivered a two-day workshop to Malawian Government officials and leading local practitioners on the management of commercial disputes and arbitration cases in Mangochi District, Malawi.

The speakers discussed key dispute avoidance strategies and then took a deep dive into the lifecycle of arbitration proceedings, from the commencement of the arbitration through to the final award, including the challenge or enforcement of an award. In addressing these themes, the workshop focused on practical tips for State defendants and practitioners to achieve successful outcomes in arbitrations. The primary objective of the workshop was to contribute to the capacity-building efforts of the Malawian government and increase its drive to develop and enhance its international arbitration skills.

"Helping to build legal capacity is always important but particularly when such training can result in greater international investment for a country," says Wheal, whose practice focuses on international arbitration and commercial litigation with a particular emphasis on Africa.

Malawi has made positive strides in developing its arbitration system in recent years, acceding to the New York Convention on March 4, 2021.  In addition, the workshop coincided with the passage of a new arbitration law in Malawi, which received presidential assent on January 31, 2024. This new legislation incorporates the UNCITRAL Model Law, further bolstering Malawi's effort to improve the country's reputation and establish a reputation for commercial arbitration. As Holden said, "there was a strong interest in the arbitral workshops with great engagement led by the Attorney General and other senior lawyers present."

During the training, Malawian Attorney General Thabo Chakaka-Nyirenda underscored the advantages of arbitration and emphasized the pivotal role of a robust commercial arbitration system in attracting foreign direct investment. He remarked, "nations aspiring to develop their economies and attract more investors must adopt commercial arbitration as an effective alternative to resolving disputes, alleviating the burden on the courts. The expediency of arbitration has proven instrumental in helping other countries elevate their economies to middle-status or beyond. That's why the Malawi Government has diligently created an enabling environment for stakeholders to progress in that direction."

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This article is prepared for the general information of interested persons. It is not, and does not attempt to be, comprehensive in nature. Due to the general nature of its content, it should not be regarded as legal advice.

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