Independent Senator Sir Trevor Carmichael wants a centre established here to provide alternative dispute resolution services to the commercial and international community.
Speaking today on the Companies (Amendment) Bill 2016, Sir Trevor said an international commercial arbitration centre had the potential to generate employment for Barbadians and now was the time to establish one here.
A pioneer in the International Financial Services Sector in Barbados, the Independent Senator said the idea was not new and that it had been on the table since the 1990s.
Sir Trevor said the framework had been laid with the enactment of legislation to facilitate its establishment.
“It is something that has received full bipartisan support. Barbados as an international commercial arbitration centre has huge potential. Within this construct alone we have a very honoured International Arbitration Act, which is better than anything else anywhere in the Caribbean.
“I remembered in the 1990s people were very receptive to the idea. We had very serious efforts also in terms of engaging with one of the largest arbitration institutions and then the present administration also engaged with another large arbitration institution,” Sir Trevor told fellow senators.
However, he advised against paying the International Criminal Court or any other international agency to set up the arbitration centre here, arguing this would wrest control away from Barbados.
Sir Trevor indicated that he and some of his colleagues were involved in fresh efforts to begin the alternative dispute resolution service, with support from Government, the private sector and the Chamber of Commerce.
“ I can say now we are right at the cusp of doing something. We have incorporated the company; we have engaged with the judiciary; we have engaged every actor that has relevance and we are now about to sponsor a training course for arbitrators at the end of next month in the Bahamas which already has a commercial arbitration centre,” Sir Trevor said.
He disclosed that a principal of a merchant bank domiciled in Barbados had assisted by providing “that financial bridge” to make the project possible.
“It shows that if a merchant bank has shown that confidence in what we are doing, then they have recognized the benefits of having an arbitration center here in Barbados.
“Barbados is a holistic jurisdiction; it is a double taxation jurisdiction and it is a jurisdiction which thrives on total integration of its international business with its other sectors. In that respect it is not what I call a poaching jurisdiction. We are not looking at other jurisdictions to get two companies to come here,” Sir Trevor explained.
He received support from Government Senator Jeptor Ince, who stressed the importance of arbitration for incorporated cell companies.
A champion of ICCs, Ince said these companies sometimes encountered legal challenges while seeking to diversify their operations.
And he told the Upper Chamber that an arbitration centre here would settle such disputes.
“So I am saying that we should move with haste and have that centre up and running. We have the potential to earn millions of dollars in additional revenue by having these disputes settled here whether they be in commodities, whether in oil, whether it is a dispute in equities or whether it is a dispute in professional services,” Ince explained.
He added that the amendment to the Companies Act would add another product to the International Business and Financial Services Sector and facilitate international business.
“We are going to create another avenue for international business persons and we are also going to create a conduit for more of our business persons now to be trained in other skill sets. We have the potential of increasing employment with this amendment,” Ince stated.