In August 2016 Angola ratified the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958. The ratification of the New York Convention has been made part of Angola’s domestic law through Resolution No. 38/2016, published in the Official Gazette of Angola.
Following its ratification, on 6 March 2017 Angola deposited its instrument of accession to the New York Convention with the Secretary General of the United Nations. In light of Article XII (2), the New York Convention will enter into force on 4 June 2017, 90 days after the instrument has been deposited with the UN Secretary General. It is important to note that Angola has not made any reservations, declarations or notifications to the New York Convention.
Angola’s ratification of the New York Convention is an important step towards being part of the wider international arbitration community. The New York Convention covers North America, most of Europe, Central and South America as well as the Asia Pacific, and is perceived as a great tool in attracting foreign investment.
By ratifying one of the most important instruments in international arbitration, Angola, as one of the fastest growing economies, will encourage and promote investment.
In essence, the ratification of the New York Convention will provide certainty for parties wishing to invest in Angola in the sense that they can feel reassured that they will be able to have their awards recognised and enforced in the country when the seat of arbitration is outside Angola.
It remains to be seen how the provisions of the Convention will be implemented and harmonised with the existing arbitration provisions.
The arbitration law (both domestic and international) in Angola (Law 16/2003) is based on the old Portuguese arbitration legislation (Law 31/1986) and contains similar provisions to the UNCITRAL Model Law. In terms of how the arbitration law and the New York Convention will interact, it is most likely that the newly ratified Convention will need to be harmonised with the Civil Procedure Code of Angola to ensure enforceability of foreign arbitral awards.
It is worth noting that arbitration has only recently been introduced in Angolan law and a 2015 Report issued by the U.S. State department shows that it has not been widely implemented throughout the country. The New York Convention may spur some change in this regard.
Furthermore, Angola’s economy has been mostly based on oil exports, but given the fall in energy prices, it may no longer be the primary source of income in the future. For this reason, attracting foreign investment in the country will help maintain Angola’s growing economy and the New York Convention is an important step in achieving this.
Finally, Angola’s step towards implementing the New York Convention may encourage other neighbouring countries in Africa to do the same, ultimately making them more attractive for foreign investment and subsequently, increase economic development.
Sabina Adascalitei LLB, LLM, MCIArb
Research and Academic Affairs Coordinator