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Rule of law key to attracting investment

20 March 2012
“Investors want to know that when they invest in a country there is the rule of law” - Mark Guthrie, Legal Adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat

A sound legal environment is key to attracting investment, a meeting of legal minds in Zambia stated early this month.

The meeting, organised by the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Division (LCAD) of the Commonwealth Secretariat in partnership with the Zambian Judiciary, was held in the town of Livingstone from 4 to 7 March 2012.

It explored how laws and legal practices in the region could be harmonised to ensure the legal environment is conducive to attracting investment.

The theme of the meeting was: 'Maintaining a suitable legal framework for a sustainable investment and business environment'.

“Investors want to know that when they invest in a country there is the rule of law, in particular that laws are certain, there is access to justice and there is an independent judiciary. Similarly citizens want to know that investment taking place in their country is being properly regulated,” said Mark Guthrie, Legal Adviser in the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Participants were drawn from Botswana, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Six were Commonwealth nations all of whom are members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and/or the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

Issues discussed during the meeting included recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, the recognition of foreign arbitration awards and judicial review.

The seminar was opened by Mr Justice Ernest Sakala, Chief Justice of Zambia. Deliberations were led by Mr Justice Solo, High Court of Botswana; Master Graham Rose of the High Court of England and Wales; Justice Leona Theron, Supreme Court of Appeal, South Africa; Justice Hamisa Kalombola, High Court of Tanzania; Mr Justice Kiryabwire, Head of the Commercial Court of Uganda and Mr Justice Kajimanja, High Court of Zambia.

The seminar resulted in seven recommendations made towards a stronger legal framework and the regional harmonisation of laws and legal processes. A committee was established to review these and to make proposals for the implementation of the recommendations.

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