find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Competition, Policy & Regulatory
Category: Other | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Work with a well regarded Partner · Sydney CBD
View details
Commercial Litigation Senior Associate
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Lawyers Weekly Australia Partner of the Year 2016, Insolvency
View details
MULTIPLEX Regional Legal Counsel (Vic) | 7 to 10 years + PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Career defining in-house role · Tier One international contractor
View details
Junior Lawyer - Personal Injury Law
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Parramatta & Western Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Highly specialized practice · Challenging role with great opportunities
View details
IR Advisor/Member Advocate
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: St Leonards NSW 2065
· Permanent (0.8-1.0 FTE) role in a developing team
View details
Aussie arbitrators eye potential in Africa

Aussie arbitrators eye potential in Africa

Opportunity for international arbitrators abounds in the African region, according to the NSW chapter president of the Australia Africa Business Council.

Home to six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies and with a continental population expected to double by 2050, business conditions in the African continent are fertile grounds for international arbitrators, barrister and arbitrator Roger de Robillard has said.

"I see Australian arbitrators having a great future in the African continent […] because of their laconic attitude, lack of colonial history and general neutrality in geopolitical terms," he said.

"With foreshadowed changes to become effective later this year, it will be possible for lawyers to be based in Mauritius and run Africa-based practices from there."

Mr de Robillard, who is a dual Mauritian and Australian national, is the NSW chapter president of the Australia Africa Business Council. Over the course of his career, the Sydney-based barrister has been involved in work in the Pacific theands, the US, Europe and Africa.

He believes that today’s established international export trade base in Africa makes it an attractive market for business investment, which in turn has primed the region as a promising emerging landscape for international arbitrators.

"Foreign investors into Africa have found it more efficient, economical and private to include arbitration clauses in contracts and to have any dispute determined by arbitration," Mr de Robillard said.

"The commercial and business developments in Africa and, in particular, innovations such as widespread use of Wifi [and] smart phones for banking, have resulted in business and commercial activity outsprinting the judicial and regulatory systems implanted by former colonial masters," he added.

According to Mr de Robillard, the prominent international dimension of GDP on the African continent reflects a colonial legacy.

"Only 12 per cent of the gross domestic product within the African continent comes from intra-Africa trade and business. This would suggest that in excess of 50 per cent of the GDP is produced through international business," Mr de Robillard said.

"This is an ongoing result of the colonial days whereby each African region would be trading (mainly exporting) towards their colonial masters."

In his view, the promise of Africa’s maturing business environment can be seen in a number of recent international meetings, which have been convened with leaders from most of the region’s 54 different nations. One example was the commitment of US$33 billion investment flowing from the US Leaders’ Summit in 2014.

"During the last 18 months the US, China, France and India have organised meetings in their capital cities with most of the heads of state from the 54 African nations. There has subsequently been actual and committed investments into Africa," Mr de Robillard said.

Australian resources companies also have a strong presence in the region adding to the fertile landscape Africa offers Australian arbitrators.

"There are currently more than 200 Australian resources companies active in more than 700 projects in Africa. Most are listed on the Australian Stock Exchange."

While a number of Australian arbitrators are practising overseas, Mr de Robillard suggested the time to explore opportunities in Africa has come.

"There are already many Australian arbitrators involved in international arbitration. Many such as Doug Jones AO, James Spigelman QC and Caroline Kenny QC have chambers in London.

"While they may not necessarily have participated widely in African arbitration cases, James Spigelman QC, for example, has sat as an arbitrator in Dubai making determinations under the laws of Mauritius," Mr de Robillard said.

Mr de Robillard attended the 23rd Congress hosted by the International Council of Commercial Arbitration held in Mauritius last month. Federal Court Chief Justice James Allsop AO was also a delegate who spoke at the Congress.

"It is hoped that following detailed talks held between his Honour and the Chief Justice of Mauritius as well as other judges of the Supreme Court of Mauritius, Australia may have some input at a later date in fostering and promoting the alternative dispute resolution expertise," Mr de Robillard said.

"African lawyers and others with expertise suited to arbitration, have not, to date, yet managed to acquire the expertise required to sit as arbitrators or as advocates before arbitrators. This is changing rapidly."

A fresh look at business opportunities in Africa was also encouraged at a recent panel event hosted by the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration in Sydney, where Mr de Robillard shared his views.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Aussie arbitrators eye potential in Africa
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Human body, illegal organ trafficking, ALHR
Sep 22 2017
Australia poised to combat illegal organ harvesting: ALHR
The Australian Lawyers for Human Rights are calling for changes to the law so that organ trafficking...
Online service, barristers, BarristerSELECT, Stephen Foley
Sep 22 2017
New online service leverages barristers’ clerks to aid briefing
A new online tool has been launched to help NSW solicitors find the most suitable barristers for the...
NSW District Court judge, Tim Gartelmann SC, next appointment,
Sep 22 2017
Silk replaces outgoing NSW District Court judge
A barrister has been named as the next appointment to the NSW District Court, following the retireme...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...