Edmund Rahming comments on Grand Bahamas need for arbitration infrastructure

The Tribune–Grand Bahama does not currently have the human or physical infrastructure to accommodate an international arbitration centre for maritime alternative dispute settlement, the managing director of a Bahamas-based forensic accounting and insolvency practice told Tribune Business yesterday.

Edmund Rahming, of Krys Rahming and Associates (Bahamas), said there were not enough qualified individuals to staff a centre dedicated to arbitration and mediation. However, he believes many of the more-than 1200 attorneys and 650 accountants living in New Providence would be willing to travel to the island should the Government build a centre there.

“We have to make sure there is the institutional support; that government provides whatever support is needed,” he said. “We need to ensure there are qualified arbitrators here, and that folks who are a support part of the process do all they can to obtain training and put themselves out there as being able to participate in these proceedings.

“In my humble opinion, the infrastructure isn’t there in Grand Bahama and we may not have sufficient professionals, but Bahamians have always been very open to moving throughout the Bahamas.”

Mr Rahming said, meanwhile, that the Cayman Islands was following the Bahamas’ lead and moving forward aggressively on passing arbitration laws, enabling it to become an immediate and strong competitor to this nation’s arbitration centre plans.

According to him, the large financial and offshore centre that Cayman is will give it an edge over the Bahamas’ smaller sector, but he touted the Bahamas’ extensive Maritime Registry as a positive building block for this country if the infrastructure can be developed.

A recent paper penned by the Global Arbitration Review 2010 cites Hurricane Ivan and Hurricane Paloma for the initial growth in arbitration proceedings in the Cayman Islands. Recently, the global financial crisis and the changes to financial regimes across the world as a result of iron-fisted G-20 intervention in the sector have created the need for arbitration centres.

The Bahamas saw the need to capture arbitration business as the global recession bore down, and introduced upgrades to the Commercial Arbitration Act, while a Bahamas chapter of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIARB) of London was subsequently launched.

A recent Tribune article placed the Bahamas with Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados as one of only two Caribbean countries to join the CIARB.

The legislation introduced by the Bahamas in 2009 to upgrade the existing act, while not enabling it to go head-to-head directly with the world’s major arbitration centres, such as New York, London and Paris, enables it to offer similar services – but on a niche basis.