Jamaica to Update Arbitration Act


Above: Professor John Rooney

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Jamaica could see a draft amendment to its Arbitration Act by the end of September, a major change for a law that has not been updated since 1900.

The act is actually modeled on an even older United Kingdom statute from 1889. The UK has several times made significant changes to its own statute, but Jamaica’s law is largely preserved from more than a century ago, like a number of Caribbean countries.

The Ministry of Justice is working with the University of Miami School of Law Professor and arbitration expert John Rooney to consider adopting elements of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law’s Model International Commercial Arbitration Law.

According to Cheryl Ivy, the ministry’s chief technical director, the initiative to devise new legislation actually began a decade ago.

“The Ministry is very keen, eager and enthusiastic to implement a modern arbitration legislation framework in Jamaica,” she said. “It presents an opportunity for Jamaica to provide leadership in the Caribbean, because we would now have the most modern arbitration legislation in the Caribbean.”

The government is also partnering with the University of the West Indies Faculty of Law, the Dispute Resolution Foundation, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators–Caribbean Branch and the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica.

“As Jamaica becomes known as a centre for arbitration, then the list of local arbitrators becomes more significant and valuable,” Rooney said.

For example, if there is an arbitration in Jamaica, the International Chamber of Commerce would look to the Jamaican national committee of the Paris-based ICC for arbitral candidates.

“They don’t want the parties to have to pay the expenses of flying the arbitrator in, if there are suitable candidates here already,” he said.

Rooney is the former chair of the Florida Bar’s International Law Section, and the chair of the Inter-American Bar Association’s International Arbitration Law Committee.