Angola: a step forward in the field of arbitration


As from 4 June 2017, the Republic of Angola has officially become the 157th contracting state to the Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 (the « New York Convention »).

The country's enormous potential in natural resources is of particular interest to foreign investors. According to the Angolan National Private Investment Agency (ANIP), the vast majority of private investments made in Angola are dedicated to the oil and gas industry. These investments mainly come from the United States, Europe and China. Despite the bleak situation in the oil sector over the past years, the Republic of Angola has once again become, in January 2017, the leading oil producer in Africa, ahead of Nigeria.

To retain its foreign investors, the Republic of Angola has decided to improve its legal system, the ratification of the New York Convention being a first step.

One of the strengths of the New York Convention is that it facilitates the enforcement of arbitral awards as the 157 states that have ratified the Convention have the obligation to recognize and enforce foreign arbitral awards in their territories in the same manner as domestic arbitral awards. Contracting states may refuse the recognition and enforcement of an award only for a limited number of reasons, namely the lack of validity of the arbitration agreement (Article V-1a.); the violation of due process (Article V-1b); the irregularity of the composition of the arbitral tribunal (Article V-1d) and where the enforcement would be contrary to public policy of the country in which enforcement is sought (Article V-2b).

As a result, the enforcement of foreign awards in the Republic of Angola is henceforth easier. It will, however, be necessary to see how the Courts in Angola will apply the provisions of this Convention. Moreover, subject to certain on-going adaptations of its Code of Civil Procedure, this ratification may also lead to the Republic of Angola becoming more attractive as a seat of arbitration.