Kigali International Arbitration Centre hosts annual conference

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Chief Justice Prof. Sam Rugege (R) chats with KIAC Secretary General Bernadette Uwicyeza, at the conference

Rwanda is committed to improving its alternative justice system by using more international arbitration in resolving commercial disputes, Chief Justice Prof Sam Rugege has said.

Rugege was speaking at the annual conference for the Kigali International Arbitration Centre (KIAC), which began in Kigali yesterday.

Arbitration is a method of resolving disputes between businesses outside court by bringing in a third party to make a legally-binding decision.

This year’s conference focuses on emerging issues in international arbitration. The event attracted over 150 participants from 18 countries.

“This conference is crucial to Rwanda,” Rugege said, while opening the conference.
“Rwandan judiciary aims at ensuring that disputes are resolved amicably without going to courts,” he noted.

Rugege said although Rwanda has home-grown solutions to alternative justice, such as the Gacaca court system, integrating arbitration can help reduce the backlog of cases in court.

At the conference, panelists discussed issues facing international arbitration, such as when to practice emergency arbitration and how to successfully execute multiparty arbitration. Benjamin Gasamagera, the chairperson of the Private Sector Federation, said it is important to address international arbitration issues.

“The current globalisation of our economies dictates free movement of goods, services and persons which is likely to increase cross-border disputes,” he explained, adding that it is the reason why the Private Sector Federation decided to participate in the conference.

KIAC aims to integrate the ideas generated at the forum into their future action plans, said Bernadette Uwicyeza, the secretary-general of the organisation.
This will help KIAC become a centre for excellence in international arbitration in order to attract more foreign investment.

Since its inception in 2012, KIAC has trained over 300 professionals in arbitration using its accreditation programme. All judges in Rwanda were also enrolled in the programme to ensure legal professionals understand the concept and practices of arbitration.