Angola has ratified the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. Its ratification was endorsed domestically via resolution No. 38/2016, published in the Official Gazette of Angola on 12 August 2016. Under Article XII(2) of the New York Convention, the ratification will take effect on the 90th day after deposit by Angola of its instrument of ratification with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Angola has one of the world’s fastest growing economies and in 2015 was reported by the US State Department to be sub-Saharan Africa’s second largest oil exporter. Ratification of the New York Convention represents a further step by Angola in fostering and promoting a stable investment climate. It follows the ratification of the Private Investment Law in August 2015, the main purpose of which was to simplify the procedure for national and foreign investment and to provide tax and other incentives.
The Angolan Arbitration Law (Law 16/2003 of 25 July) (the Arbitration Law) is largely based on the old Portuguese Arbitration Law (Law 31/1986 of 29 August) and bears considerable similarity to the UNCITRAL Model Law. The Arbitration Law provides for domestic and international arbitration.
The ratification of the New York Convention will provide reassurance for parties investing or intending to invest in Angola that they can resolve their Angola-related disputes by means of arbitration seated outside Angola, and that arbitral awards made in relation to such disputes should be recognised and enforced in Angola. Precisely how the Convention obligations will be implemented of course remains to be seen over the coming months, including in the context of the application of the Arbitration Law to those obligations, and the practical commercial and judicial acceptance of arbitration as a method of resolving disputes going forward.
Foreign investors should also continue to consider the application of the Private Investment Law in relation to arbitration. The Private Investment Law permits the arbitration of disputes that arise from investment contracts between the Angolan state (represented by the direct or indirect administration body to which authority is delegated) and the private investor (Article 46(3)). However, if arbitration is chosen as the form of dispute resolution for such investment contracts, it must take place in Angola, and the law applicable to the substance of the contract and the proceedings must be Angolan (Article 46(4)).
Herbert Smith Freehills launches the second edition of its ground-breaking Guide to Dispute Resolution in Africa in September 2016. The Guide covers all 54 of Africa's diverse jurisdictions.
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