Legislation updates

Arbitration in Zimbabwe

Peter C Lloyd 29/01/2018



Zimbabwe has a well-established arbitration regime.

As long ago as 1996 the country repealed its outdated arbitration legislation, and replaced it by adopting the UNCITRAL Model Law, with minor amendments. Whilst the model law was originally designed to cater for the arbitration of international commercial disputes, in Zimbabwe its terms cover all domestic matters capable of arbitration, as well as international arbitrations conducted in this country. It has proved well suited to govern the arbitration of a wide variety of disputes.

Zimbabwe is also a signatory to the New York Convention, thus facilitating the enforcement of international arbitral awards in Zimbabwe.

Since the introduction of the new Act the great majority of domestic commercial contracts have included arbitration as the chosen method of dispute resolution, typically nominating the Commercial Arbitration Centre in Harare (CAC) as the appointing body in the event that the parties are unable to agree the identity of an arbitrator, or arbitral panel. A relatively new organisation, the Africa Institute of Mediation and Arbitration (AIMA), is now an alternative appointing body.

Both the CAC and the AIMA can provide or organise arbitration venues, recording and transcription services, and other support required for the conduct of an arbitration.

All of this would be of little significance, however, without a reasonable pool of individuals qualified to conduct arbitrations, as well as a supportive court system.

Both the CAC and AIMA have reasonable  panels of arbitrators, from a variety of professional backgrounds, from which to make appropriate nominations. These panels include retired judges, as well as several Fellows or Members of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

The courts of Zimbabwe respect the place of arbitration as a valuable dispute resolution mechanism; together with the fact that their jurisdiction is ousted by a binding agreement to arbitrate, save to the extent of intervening to protect the interests of any party pending the outcome of an arbitration. There is also a body of authority to the effect that the courts will be reluctant to intervene with the outcome of an arbitration, save in a case of clear misconduct in the proceedings.

Peter Lloyd FCIArb* 

*Peter Lloyd, together with his partner Mordecai Mahlangu, are regularly appointed to act as arbitrators in a wide variety of disputes, principally in the fields of commercial and employment law.