Ghana February 24 2020
Laws and institutionsMultilateral conventions relating to arbitration
Is your jurisdiction a contracting state to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards? Since when has the Convention been in force? Were any declarations or notifications made under articles I, X and XI of the Convention? What other multilateral conventions relating to international commercial and investment arbitration is your country a party to?
Ghana is a contracting state to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the New York Convention). Ghana became a party to the New York Convention on 9 April 1968, which came into force on the same date. No declarations or notifications were made under articles I, X and XI of the New York Convention. Ghana is also a party to the International Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes, which came into force on 14 October 1966. In addition, Ghana is a party to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).Bilateral investment treaties
Do bilateral investment treaties exist with other countries?
Yes. Ghana has entered into 28 bilateral investment treaties with other countries, most of which contain dispute resolution provisions. The most recent treaty was signed between Ghana and Turkey on 1 March 2016.Domestic arbitration law
What are the primary domestic sources of law relating to domestic and foreign arbitral proceedings, and recognition and enforcement of awards?
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Act 2010 (Act 798) (the ADR Act) regulates domestic arbitral proceedings. The ADR Act is divided into five parts. Part 1 is the part that provides for arbitration. The ADR Act does not regulate foreign arbitral proceedings; however, it provides the framework for the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards. Arbitration proceedings are considered foreign when they are undertaken outside the jurisdiction under a system of law other than the laws of Ghana. The party seeking to enforce a foreign award must apply to the High Court of Ghana to enforce the foreign award. The High Court will enforce the award if the following conditions are satisfied:
- the award was rendered by a competent authority under the laws of the country where the award was made;
- either a reciprocal agreement exists between Ghana and the country in which the award was made or the award was made under the New York Convention or under any other international convention on arbitration ratified by Parliament;
- the party has produced the original award, or a certified copy thereof, and the agreement pursuant to which the award was made or a duly authenticated copy of the award (the authentication must be done in accordance with the law of the country where the award and agreement were made); and
- there is no appeal pending against the award in any court under the law applicable to the arbitration.
Domestic arbitration and UNCITRAL
Is your domestic arbitration law based on the UNCITRAL Model Law? What are the major differences between your domestic arbitration law and the UNCITRAL Model Law?
Part 1 of the ADR Act is largely based on the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration. However, there are some differences between the ADR Act and the UNCITRAL Model Law. Some of the major differences are as follows:
- in terms of subject matter, the UNCITRAL Model Law essentially relates to commercial disputes between contracting parties at the international level. The ADR Act, however, provides an avenue for the resolution of a wide variety of disputes, including commercial disputes;
- the ADR Act provides for customary arbitration, which is unique to the Ghanaian legal system. Customary arbitration is where parties with a prior agreement to be bound by the decision of the arbitrators submit their disputes to arbitrators (who may be chiefs, heads of family or heads of clan) for the purpose of having the dispute decided informally, but on its merits; and
- the court and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre (set up by the ADR Act) are key parts in the ADR Act, as opposed to the position of the conciliator in the UNCITRAL Model Law.
What are the mandatory domestic arbitration law provisions on procedure from which parties may not deviate?
Generally, parties may agree on the procedure to be adopted for arbitration. They may also adopt the procedural rules of an arbitration institution. In the absence of such an agreement, the arbitral tribunal may conduct the arbitration in the manner it considers appropriate. In either case, the arbitral tribunal has the obligation to abide by the principle of equal treatment of the parties in the proceedings, and ensure that each party is given an opportunity to present its case.
The following are mandatory provisions on procedure from which parties may not deviate:
- an arbitrator is bound to give the parties notice of the date of hearing. If the arbitrator does not give notice to a party, that will be grounds for a party to challenge the arbitral award; and
- a party before the hearing shall give the arbitrator and the other party personal details of witnesses that the party intends to call, and the substance of the testimony of each witness.
Is there any rule in your domestic arbitration law that provides the arbitral tribunal with guidance as to which substantive law to apply to the merits of the dispute?
The ADR Act mandates the arbitrator to decide the dispute in accordance with the law of a country chosen by the parties (excluding the conflict of law rules of that country). The arbitrator is also required to have regard to such other considerations as are agreed by the parties or as may be determined by the arbitrator. Where the issue relates to a contract, the arbitrator is expected to take cognisance of the usages of the trade to which the contract relates. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement on the applicable substantive law, the arbitrator is required to determine the dispute by reference to the conflict of law rules that the arbitrator deems applicable. The Act empowers an arbitrator to grant any relief that the arbitrator considers just and equitable, including specific performance.Arbitral institutions
What are the most prominent arbitral institutions situated in your jurisdiction?
There are two prominent arbitral institutions in Ghana. These are the Ghana Arbitration Centre, and the Ghana ADR Hub. Below are their contact details:
The Ghana Arbitration Centre
No. C122A / 3 Farrar Avenue, Asylum Down
PO Box GP 18615, Accra
Tel: +233 302 240820 / 240924
Fax: +233 302 223227
Ghana ADR Hub
H/No. Plot 50, Block A
New Ahensan, Kumasi
Tel: +233 267 037800
In addition, the ADR Act has made provision for the establishment of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre. It is envisaged that the Centre, when established, will have a permanent existence with the object of facilitating the practice of alternative dispute resolution in Ghana. The law provides a great deal of flexibility in terms of the choice of law, place of arbitration, selection of arbitrators and the language of proceedings. In each of these areas, the parties are given the priority to make a choice. The arbitral tribunal is vested with the power to decide on any of the matters where the parties are unable to reach a consensus on the issue in question. With respect to the fees for arbitrators, there must first be an agreement between the parties and the arbitrator as to the amount payable. In calculating the amount payable, regard must also be given to the value of the subject matter, the complexity of the case and the agreed hourly fee rate.
The National Labour Commission, as established by the Labour Act 2003 (Act 651), is another important arbitral institution in Ghana. The National Labour Commission’s mandate is to facilitate and settle industrial disputes through negotiation, mediation and arbitration. Arbitration conducted by the National Labour Commission may be either voluntary or compulsory. The Labour Act 2003 (Act 651) stipulates that parties in industrial disputes involving strike and lockout, and essential services, shall be compulsorily referred to arbitration where the disputes persist after statutorily defined time limits. Currently, the National Labour Commission is usually the first point of call in the resolution of industrial disputes in Ghana.
The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act 2013 (Act 865) and the Minerals and Mining Act 2006 (Act 703) allow for parties (investors and the government) to resort to arbitration as one of the options for dispute resolution. These laws further provide that parties may refer the dispute to arbitration in accordance with UNCITRAL rules or within the framework of a bilateral agreement between Ghana and the investor’s country.
Are there any types of disputes that are not arbitrable?
The ADR Act expressly states that matters involving the following are not arbitrable:
- national or public interest;
- the environment;
- the enforcement and interpretation of the Constitution; and
- other matters that by law cannot be settled by an alternative dispute resolution method (including criminal action and abuse of human rights).
The general rule is that only matters that can be subjected to compromise and settlement are to be referred to arbitration. Although the ADR Act does not expressly mention disputes in the areas of intellectual property, antitrust, competition law, securities transactions and intracompany disputes, such disputes may be settled through arbitration.Requirements
What formal and other requirements exist for an arbitration agreement?
The ADR Act provides that an arbitration agreement must be in writing. In order to satisfy the requirement of writing, the law stipulates that the arbitration agreement may be in the form of an exchange of letters, telex, fax, email or other means of communication providing a record of the agreement. An arbitration agreement is valid even where it is contained in an exchange of statements of claim and defence in which the existence of an agreement is alleged by one party and not denied by the other, or when reference is made in a contract to any document containing an arbitration clause.Enforceability
In what circumstances is an arbitration agreement no longer enforceable?
An arbitration agreement may not be enforceable if waived by the parties or if the parties decide to submit the matter to the jurisdiction of the courts, or if declared null and void by the arbitral tribunal.
However, an arbitration agreement is not rendered unenforceable by reason of the death, merger or dissolution of a party to the agreement. The obligations of a party under an arbitration agreement may be transferred to their successors, personal representatives or liquidator on the death, merger or dissolution of such a party. In addition, a party to an arbitration agreement who is not notified of an arbitral proceeding may apply to the High Court to set aside the arbitration agreement.
Arbitration agreements that form part of a contract are generally deemed to be independent of the other terms of the contract. Thus, the invalidity or unenforceability of the underlying contract does not affect the arbitration agreement or clause.Separability
Are there any provisions on the separability of arbitration agreements from the main agreement?
See https://www.lexology.com/gtdt.Third parties – bound by arbitration agreement
In which instances can third parties or non-signatories be bound by an arbitration agreement?
In principle, arbitration agreements cannot be extended to third parties who are not signatories to the arbitration agreement. The ADR Act does not make any express provision for the imposition of liability arising from an arbitration agreement on account of assignment, agency or insolvency. However, the assignment of the underlying contract may be presumed to include the acceptance of any arbitration agreements contained in or incorporated into the underlying contract. Similarly, a principal may be bound by an arbitration agreement entered into by an agent. Under the ADR Act, the occurrence of death does not discharge a party to an arbitration agreement from liability. The implication is that a successor-in-title will be required to discharge the liabilities arising from the arbitration agreement entered into by the deceased. This may also be presumed for situations of insolvency.Third parties – participation
Does your domestic arbitration law make any provisions with respect to third-party participation in arbitration, such as joinder or third-party notice?
The ADR Act does not contain any provisions with respect to third-party participation in arbitration. However, third parties may participate where the arbitration agreement in a main contract entered into by the parties extends to ancillary contracts that one of the parties to the main contract executes with a different party, or where the parties agree to the joinder of a third party. Also, under the Contracts Act of Ghana 1960 (Act 25), a third-party beneficiary of the main contract may enforce an arbitration agreement contained in the main contract as if it were a party to the contract.Groups of companies
Do courts and arbitral tribunals in your jurisdiction extend an arbitration agreement to non-signatory parent or subsidiary companies of a signatory company, provided that the non-signatory was somehow involved in the conclusion, performance or termination of the contract in dispute, under the ‘group of companies’ doctrine?
Under the principle of separate legal personality, companies in the same group will not be bound by an arbitration agreement entered into by a parent company or subsidiary company, or another company in the same group, unless the corporate veil is lifted.
The ADR Act provides that parties who submit a matter for arbitration must have an agreement between them. This implies that the arbitrator, or the tribunal as the case may be, shall not have the mandate to extend any arbitral proceedings to another party that was not a party to the agreement.
The law does not grant any exemption to companies in this regard, and hence the ‘group of companies’ doctrine may not be applicable in Ghana, unless the corporate veil is lifted.Multiparty arbitration agreements
What are the requirements for a valid multiparty arbitration agreement?
There is no express provision relating to multiparty arbitration agreements under the ADR Act. Thus, the requirements for a valid bilateral agreement would, in principle, be the same as those set out for the validity of a multiparty arbitration agreement. Additionally, whenever an issue regarding the composition of the arbitral tribunal arises, the appointing authority shall decide on it based on the principles of equal treatment and due process of law.Consolidation
Can an arbitral tribunal in your jurisdiction consolidate separate arbitral proceedings? In which circumstances?
Constitution of arbitral tribunalEligibility of arbitrators
Are there any restrictions as to who may act as an arbitrator? Would any contractually stipulated requirement for arbitrators based on nationality, religion or gender be recognised by the courts in your jurisdiction?
The general principle is that an arbitrator is required to have the relevant experience and competence. However, parties are given the power to appoint any persons to act as arbitrators, regardless of their experience or nationality. Even though arbitral institutions are mandated to keep a list of qualified mediators and arbitrators, there is nothing in the law that suggests that parties to an arbitration dispute cannot appoint arbitrators outside that list.
In order to guarantee a fair award, the factors outlined below, among others, are to be taken into account in the appointment of an arbitrator:
- the relationship of the arbitrator to a party or counsel of a party to the arbitration;
- the nationality of the parties; and
- the personal, proprietary, fiduciary or financial interest of the arbitrator.
The ADR Act provides in relevant parts that, in appointing an arbitrator, the parties, the person or the appointing institution shall have regard to the ‘nationalities of the parties and other relevant considerations’. Once the parties agree on the arbitrators, the law recognises those arbitrators irrespective of a requirement for nationality, religion or gender.
Parties are at liberty to challenge the appointment of any arbitrator whose appointment does not satisfy the foregoing requirements. The law does not impose any express restrictions on the appointment of judges (active or retired) as arbitrators. The ADR Act provides that parties to an arbitration can request a list of arbitrators from any of the arbitral institutions in Ghana.Background of arbitrators
Who regularly sit as arbitrators in your jurisdiction?
Generally, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act 2010 (Act 798) only requires that an arbitrator must be independent and impartial. There is, therefore, no legal requirement for any specific professionals to sit as arbitrators. The trend in commercial disputes is for lawyers, judges and law professors to sit as arbitrators. In labour disputes, the trend is for the National Labour Commission to appoint industry experts (who may not have a legal background) to sit as arbitrators.Default appointment of arbitrators
Failing prior agreement of the parties, what is the default mechanism for the appointment of arbitrators?
The ADR Act permits parties to agree on the procedure for appointing an arbitrator. If the parties are unable to agree on the appointment procedure, the default rules for the appointment of arbitrators are triggered. With respect to a sole arbitrator, the default rule is that the appointment shall be made by the appointing authority upon a request by one party if both parties cannot agree on an arbitrator within 14 days of one party receiving a request for arbitration from the other. Where the parties fail to agree on the number of arbitrators, the default number of arbitrators is three, with two being party-appointed arbitrators. Where the arbitral tribunal is made up of three arbitrators and the two party-appointed arbitrators are unable to agree on a third arbitrator, either party can request that the appointment of the third arbitrator be made by an appointing authority.Challenge and replacement of arbitrators
On what grounds and how can an arbitrator be challenged and replaced? Please discuss in particular the grounds for challenge and replacement, and the procedure, including challenge in court. Is there a tendency to apply or seek guidance from the IBA Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in International Arbitration?
The ADR Act provides that a person appointed as an arbitrator shall make a full disclosure of material facts involving any proprietary or financial interest that may give reasonable cause to doubt his or her independence and impartiality.
The appointment of an arbitrator may be challenged if it emerges that the arbitrator does not possess the qualifications agreed upon by the parties or circumstances exist that give rise to justifiable doubt as to the arbitrator’s independence or impartiality. According to the ADR Act, a party may not challenge an arbitrator he or she has appointed, or whose appointment he or she participated in, except for reasons that the party becomes aware of after the appointment.
With respect to the procedure for challenging the appointment of an arbitrator, the law gives parties the right to make that determination. Where the parties are unable to agree on a procedure, the party mounting the challenge is required to submit a written statement to the arbitral tribunal or the arbitrator, within 15 days of becoming aware of the composition of the tribunal or the grounds justifying the challenge of a sole arbitrator. The party challenging the appointment of the arbitrator can also apply to the High Court for the revocation of the arbitrator’s authority on notice to the other party. The High Court may remove an arbitrator where there is sufficient reason to doubt the impartiality of the arbitrator. If the arbitrator is physically or mentally incapable, or there is justifiable doubt as to the arbitrator’s capability to conduct proceedings, he or she may also be removed by the High Court. Additionally, if the arbitrator has refused or failed to conduct the arbitral proceedings properly, or to use reasonable dispatch in conducting the proceedings or making an award, and substantial injustice has or will be caused to the applicant, the High Court may remove that arbitrator. The arbitrator’s authority will also be revoked on his or her death. If the arbitrator’s authority is revoked, the law permits the parties to decide on how the vacancy will be filled.
If the parties fail to agree on the replacement arbitrator, an appointing authority shall, on application by a party, appoint another arbitrator in accordance with the law. Where an arbitrator has been successfully challenged, or that arbitrator’s mandate is terminated owing to an agreement between the parties, or a situation has made it impossible for the arbitrator to act, or the arbitrator has resigned, a substitute arbitrator shall be appointed according to the rules that were applicable to the appointment of the arbitrator being replaced.
There is nothing in the law that prohibits an arbitral tribunal or arbitrator from seeking guidance from the IBA or any other body, should it deem this necessary.Relationship between parties and arbitrators
What is the relationship between parties and arbitrators? Please elaborate on the contractual relationship between parties and arbitrators, neutrality of party-appointed arbitrators, remuneration and expenses of arbitrators.
Arbitrators, whether appointed by the parties or by the appointing institution, or otherwise, are required to be independent, and to act fairly and impartially. Arbitrators are not agents or representatives of the parties in the dispute. Thus, to guarantee a fair award, the law imposes a strict obligation on an arbitrator to disclose all material facts that will impinge on the delivery of his or her award.
The parties are also required to bear the expenses and remuneration of the arbitrator or the tribunal. Where the High Court removes an arbitrator on an application by a party, it may make any orders that it considers appropriate for payment of fees and expenses of the arbitrator, or the payment by the arbitrator of any fees or expenses already paid to the arbitration. The ADR Act empowers an arbitrator to withhold the delivery of an award to the parties until there is full payment of the fees and expenses of the arbitrator.Duties of arbitrators
What are arbitrators’ duties of disclosure regarding impartiality and independence throughout the arbitral proceedings?
See https://www.lexology.com/gtdt.Immunity of arbitrators from liability
To what extent are arbitrators immune from liability for their conduct in the course of the arbitration?
The ADR Act provides immunity to arbitrators in the performance of their functions and explicitly regulates their liability. However, an arbitrator will be liable for the consequences of deliberate wrongdoing arising from the performance of his or her duties. Section 23(1) of the ADR Act states that ‘an arbitrator is not liable for any act or omission in the discharge of the arbitrator’s functions as an arbitrator unless the arbitrator is shown to have acted in bad faith’.
Section 23(1) also applies to an employee or an agent of the arbitrator.
Jurisdiction and competence of arbitral tribunalCourt proceedings contrary to arbitration agreements
What is the procedure for disputes over jurisdiction if court proceedings are initiated despite an existing arbitration agreement, and what time limits exist for jurisdictional objections?
If a party institutes court proceedings in spite of an arbitration agreement, the other party may make an application to the court to stay its proceedings and refer the parties to arbitration. Where such an application is made, the court is mandated by the ADR Act to refer the parties to arbitration where the court finds that there is an arbitration agreement in respect of the dispute. The ADR Act mandates that the party making the application for stay of proceedings must do so upon entering (conditional) appearance in the action. This is because, if the defendant takes a step in the litigation, it would be presumed as a waiver of the arbitration agreement. Thus, it is essential that the application for stay of proceedings is made to the court after entry of (conditional) appearance.Jurisdiction of arbitral tribunal
What is the procedure for disputes over jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal once arbitral proceedings have been initiated, and what time limits exist for jurisdictional objections?
Once constituted, the arbitral tribunal is competent to rule on its own jurisdiction. A party making a jurisdictional challenge before the arbitral tribunal must raise the motion before taking the first step in the proceedings to contest the case on its merits. Parties are not precluded from raising an objection to the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal or arbitrator because they have appointed or participated in the appointment of an arbitrator. A motion that the arbitral tribunal is exceeding the scope of its authority shall be raised as soon as the matter alleged to be beyond the scope of its authority arises during the arbitral proceedings. The arbitral tribunal may address the issue of jurisdiction in a preliminary award before ruling on the merits of the case. The award rendered may only be challenged through an annulment action at the High Court or to the appointing authority. The initiation of an annulment action does not suspend the ongoing arbitral proceedings. The arbitrator may entertain an objection made later than the prescribed time if the arbitrator considers that there is sufficient justification to do so.
Arbitral proceedingsPlace and language of arbitration, and choice of law
Failing prior agreement of the parties, what is the default mechanism for the place of arbitration and the language of the arbitral proceedings? How is the substantive law of the dispute determined?
The ADR Act provides that where the parties are unable to agree on the place of arbitration, it shall be determined by the arbitrator or the arbitral tribunal, taking into consideration the circumstances of the case and the convenience of the parties. The law also confers power on the arbitral tribunal to determine the language to be used for the arbitral proceedings if the parties are unable to agree on this issue. The arbitrator may direct that any documentary evidence should be accompanied with a translation into a language agreed on by the parties.Commencement of arbitration
How are arbitral proceedings initiated?
An arbitration proceeding is initiated where a party to a dispute in respect of which there is an arbitration agreement refers the dispute to an arbitrator or an arbitral institution for arbitration. The party initiating the arbitral proceedings is required to notify the other party of the commencement of the proceeding. A party to an agreement who is not notified of an arbitration proceeding arising under that agreement may apply to the High Court to set aside any arbitral award.Hearing
Is a hearing required and what rules apply?
Subject to the agreement of the parties, the arbitrator may dispense with the requirement for a hearing. In lieu of a hearing, the arbitrator may request the parties to make their respective cases through the submission of documents and other materials. However, if the parties desire to be heard, there are a number of procedures that must be satisfied. The parties are required to give the arbitrator the particulars of any witnesses who will be called. The ADR Act further requires that the hearing shall be held in private, unless the parties agree to the contrary. At the commencement of the hearing, the parties are required to provide opening statements that will set down the issues to be determined. Similar rules of procedure apply where the parties elect to use the Expedited Arbitration Proceedings Rules of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre. In that regard, the Centre will play a facilitative role with respect to the proceedings. The Centre will be required to serve notice of the hearing date on the parties. Depending on the nature of the issue in contention, the hearing may be concluded in a day.Evidence
By what rules is the arbitral tribunal bound in establishing the facts of the case? What types of evidence are admitted and how is the taking of evidence conducted?
The taking of evidence is generally governed by the statutory rules relating to the admissibility of evidence. The ADR Act imposes an obligation on the arbitrator to ensure that evidence is taken in the presence of parties, unless a party has expressly waived that right or has refused to attend without good cause. A party is entitled to present his or her evidence by affidavit after the arbitrator has considered any objections by the opposing party. The opposing party is also entitled to cross-examine the deponent after the presentation of the affidavit evidence. The parties may agree, or the arbitrator may direct the parties, to submit additional documents and materials to him or her after the oral hearing to enable the issue or issues to be settled conclusively. The law confers enormous powers on the arbitrator to regulate the procedure dealing with the calling of witnesses. The parties are obliged to provide only material evidence.
Witnesses are required to provide relevant evidence that is necessary to the determination of the issues in dispute. Subject to the rules of natural justice, the arbitrator has the prerogative of determining whether evidence given is relevant and material to the issues in contention. The ADR Act makes provision for the appointment of experts to assist in the conduct of the proceedings. The law does not give pre-eminence to either tribunal-appointed experts or party-appointed experts. It provides that the arbitrator may appoint an independent expert to report to the arbitrator or tribunal in writing on any specified issue. In such a case, the parties are required to cooperate with the expert by providing him or her with the required information and evidence. On the submission of the report of the tribunal-appointed expert, the parties are entitled to cross-examine the expert at the hearing or call their own experts to comment on the report of the tribunal-appointed expert. As part of the process of obtaining evidence, the arbitral tribunal may request that documents submitted by parties should be inspected. The arbitral tribunal is required to provide notice to the parties indicating the time and date for the inspection. On completion of the inspection, the arbitral tribunal is required to furnish the parties with copies of its report for their comments.
The rules of evidence in Ghana are quite exhaustive for the purposes of conducting arbitral proceedings. That notwithstanding, an arbitral tribunal or arbitrator may seek guidance from the IBA or any other body when it becomes necessary.Court involvement
In what instances can the arbitral tribunal request assistance from a court, and in what instances may courts intervene?
The ADR Act does not contain any express provisions on the instances where the arbitral tribunal can request assistance from the court. The court is empowered to refer any matter brought before it to arbitration where it is satisfied that the action or part thereof can be resolved through arbitration. The court may intervene where any issues arise with regard to the appointment procedure of the arbitrator. Where the appointment procedure of the arbitrator is called into question, a party may apply to the High Court for the purposes of setting aside the appointment.
In addition, a party may apply to the High Court for the revocation of the arbitrator’s authority where it is established that the arbitrator has violated the requirements of neutrality or impartiality in the discharge of his or her responsibilities. The ADR Act further provides that a party to a proceeding who is dissatisfied with an arbitrator’s ruling on jurisdiction in an arbitration proceeding may apply to the High Court for the determination of the arbitrator’s jurisdiction. The Court’s intervention will also be triggered when a party to an agreement who has not been notified of an arbitration proceeding applies to the Court to set the proceedings aside. The Court may also intervene where a party applies to set aside an arbitral award. A party is entitled to challenge the validity of an award where the court is satisfied, inter alia, that a party to an agreement was under some form of disability, the law applicable to the arbitration agreement was not valid, or the party was not given notice of the appointment of the arbitrator or was unable to present his or her case. An arbitral award is also liable to be set aside where the Court discovers that the subject matter of the arbitration was not capable of settlement by arbitration.
With respect to evidence, the law confers considerable power on the arbitrator to regulate the process. For instance, the arbitrator determines the materiality and relevance of evidence submitted by the parties. The Court cannot intervene directly with regard to the taking of evidence. Its power to support arbitral proceedings on issues of evidence is subject to the consent of the parties.Confidentiality
Is confidentiality ensured?
The ADR Act enjoins the arbitrator or the arbitral tribunal to maintain confidentiality at all stages of the proceedings. The arbitrator is required to keep any information relating to the dispute in strict confidence. For instance, the arbitrator is required to conduct the oral hearing in private and is mandated to keep information regarding any material submitted in confidence, unless the parties request otherwise. In addition, a party who seeks to enforce an award is only required to apply to the High Court for an order. Confidentiality can still be maintained at this stage, since the Court will not go into the substantive issues that gave rise to the arbitration proceedings or the award.
Interim measures and sanctioning powersInterim measures by the courts
What interim measures may be ordered by courts before and after arbitration proceedings have been initiated?
The ADR Act permits parties to request the High Court to order an interim measure before or during arbitral proceedings.
The High Court may make an interim order for the taking and preservation of evidence or assets, or on issues affecting property rights that are the subject of the proceedings, make an interim injunction or address issues regarding the appointment of a receiver.
Under section 40 of the ADR Act, the High Court may also determine any questions of law that arise in the course of the proceedings if the Court is satisfied that the question substantially affects the rights of the other party. The High Court is also entitled to make an order that any question of law arising from an arbitration proceeding be referred to it for determination. The exercise of this power is, however, subject to the agreement of the parties. In addition, the ADR Act provides that, unless the parties otherwise agree, an application to the High Court shall not serve as a stay of the arbitral proceedings.Interim measures by an emergency arbitrator
Does your domestic arbitration law or do the rules of the domestic arbitration institutions mentioned above provide for an emergency arbitrator prior to the constitution of the arbitral tribunal?
No, the ADR Act does not contain any provisions for an emergency arbitrator. However, the ADR Act provides that, where there is a sudden vacancy in the arbitral tribunal, the parties may agree on whether and how the vacancy should be filled.
However, with regard to the National Labour Commission, where a vacancy occurs in the number of arbitrators, the remaining arbitrators may, with the consent of the parties, act despite the vacancy; failing that, the party whose number of arbitrators is affected by the vacancy shall appoint another arbitrator to fill the vacancy immediately; failing this, the Commission shall appoint another arbitrator to fill the vacancy.Interim measures by the arbitral tribunal
What interim measures may the arbitral tribunal order after it is constituted? In which instances can security for costs be ordered by an arbitral tribunal?
The arbitrator may, at the request of a party, grant any interim relief the arbitrator considers necessary for the protection or preservation of property. An interim relief may be in the form of an interim award, and the arbitrator may require the payment of costs for such relief. The applicant is required under the law to bear liability for the cost of granting the interim relief.Sanctioning powers of the arbitral tribunal
Pursuant to your domestic arbitration law or the rules of the domestic arbitration institutions mentioned above, is the arbitral tribunal competent to order sanctions against parties or their counsel who use ‘guerrilla tactics’ in arbitration? May counsel be subject to sanctions by the arbitral tribunal or domestic arbitral institutions?
The ADR Act and the rules of the Ghana Arbitration Centre do not specifically provide for the arbitration tribunal’s competence to sanction parties or counsel who use ‘guerrilla tactics’. But, such competence may fall within the broad powers of the arbitrator in section 31(2) of the ADR Act, which places an obligation on the arbitral tribunal, subject to the other requirements of the ADR Act, to conduct the arbitration to avoid unnecessary delay and expenses. This section also allows the arbitral tribunal to adopt measures that will expedite resolution of the dispute. The ADR Act further prescribes that the arbitral tribunal has the power to decide on matters of procedure and evidence subject to the rights of the parties. Thus, the arbitral tribunal, for example, has the power to determine the manner in which witnesses are examined.
Under the rules of the Ghana Arbitration Centre, once the arbitral tribunal has adopted the rules for settling the dispute, the arbitral tribunal may proceed if a party attempts to delay the proceedings. However, this party must be notified of the proceedings that took place in its absence. Also, under the rules, the Ghana Arbitration Centre levies charges on a party who causes an adjournment of any scheduled hearing.
AwardsDecisions by the arbitral tribunal
Failing party agreement, is it sufficient if decisions by the arbitral tribunal are made by a majority of all its members or is a unanimous vote required? What are the consequences for the award if an arbitrator dissents?
The arbitrator is required to encourage the parties to resolve their differences during the proceedings. The law does not impose any requirement that the decision of the arbitrators be unanimous if the parties are unable to reach an agreement.
In rendering an award, it is sufficient if the decision of the arbitral tribunal is made by a majority. The validity of the award is not impugned by a dissenting opinion expressed by an arbitrator.Dissenting opinions
How does your domestic arbitration law deal with dissenting opinions?
In all cases in which a dissenting opinion is expressed by a member of an arbitral tribunal, it will not count towards the final decision of the tribunal. Where a unanimous decision cannot be reached, the decisive opinion is that expressed by the majority.Form and content requirements
What form and content requirements exist for an award?
The parties have the liberty to determine the form and content of the arbitral award. In the absence of such an agreement, the award must satisfy the following requirements:
- be in writing;
- be signed by the arbitrator or the tribunal, as the case may be;
- the date and place where the award was made must be indicated; and
- the reasons for the award must be indicated, unless the parties otherwise agree not to.
In the case of awards granted by a tribunal, the signature of the majority shall be sufficient, provided that the reason for the omission of the signatures of some of the arbitrators is stated.Time limit for award
Does the award have to be rendered within a certain time limit under your domestic arbitration law or under the rules of the domestic arbitration institutions mentioned above?
The ADR Act has not set out any specific time frame for the delivery of the award. However, the parties to an arbitration proceeding expect to resolve their differences as quickly as possible; thus, the arbitration proceeding is expected to be conducted expeditiously and the award handled within a reasonable time. What amounts to a reasonable time is a question of fact to be determined on a case-by-case basis. Even though the ADR Act does not specify the time limit for the delivery of the award, it expressly prohibits the arbitrator from extending the time limit agreed by the parties for the delivery of the award. Under the rules of the Ghana Arbitration Centre, the arbitrator shall not deliver the award later than 30 days from the date of closing the hearings, or if oral hearings are waived, from the date of transmitting the final statements and proofs to the arbitrator. The parties may, however, amend the time limit of the award.Date of award
For what time limits is the date of the award decisive and for what time limits is the date of delivery of the award decisive?
The date of the delivery of the award and the date of its receipt by the parties are significant for a number of reasons. The date of the delivery of the award is relevant for purposes of adding to or correcting any clerical, typographical, technical or computational error in the award. This may be effected either at the request of a party to the proceedings or at the instance of the arbitrator within a period of 28 days after the delivery of the award. The date of the receipt of the award by the parties is relevant for the purposes of challenging its validity. A party who wishes to set aside an award is required to submit his or her application to the High Court within a period of three months from the date the party received or is notified of the award.Types of awards
What types of awards are possible and what types of relief may the arbitral tribunal grant?
The law provides for three main types of awards: interim relief, settlement before conclusion of arbitration and the final arbitral award.
With regard to interim relief, an arbitrator is permitted, at the request of a party, to grant any interlocutory relief that he or she considers necessary for the preservation or protection of property.
In addition, a relief in the form of an award may be granted by an arbitrator where, in the course of a proceeding, the parties settle their dispute before the arbitral award is given. An arbitrator may also deliver a final award on the conclusion of an arbitration proceeding. The ADR Act also provides that an arbitrator may grant any relief the arbitrator considers just and equitable (including specific performance) provided that the arbitrator acts within the scope of the arbitration agreement.Termination of proceedings
By what other means than an award can proceedings be terminated?
The arbitral proceedings may be terminated if:
- the claimant withdraws the claim, unless the respondent objects, and the arbitral tribunal recognises a legitimate interest on the respondent’s part in obtaining a final settlement of the dispute;
- the parties agree on the termination of the proceedings;
- the arbitral tribunal finds that the continuation of the proceedings has for any other reason become unnecessary or impossible; or
- the parties have settled their dispute before the delivery of the final award. In such circumstances, the law permits the arbitrator to terminate the proceedings and, with the consent of the parties, record the settlement in the form of an arbitral award on agreed terms.
Cost allocation and recovery
How are the costs of the arbitral proceedings allocated in awards? What costs are recoverable?
The assessment of the costs and expenses arising from an arbitration proceeding is done by the arbitrator. Parties are liable to equally bear all the administrative costs arising from the proceedings, unless they agree to the contrary. The parties are also required to pay for the services of their attorneys and any other statutory fees.
The law also provides that a party may, within 28 days after the date of the determination of the amount of fees, apply to the appointing authority or the court, upon notice to the other party and the arbitrators, for an order adjusting the amount. Any excess payment made as a result of the adjustment may be ordered to be repaid.Interest
May interest be awarded for principal claims and for costs, and at what rate?
The ADR Act makes provision for the recovery of interest on principal claims in appropriate circumstances. The mode of payment and the rate of interest on any sum are determined by the arbitrator. In the case of disputes relating to contracts, the arbitrator can grant the appropriate pre-award or post-award relief at simple or compound interest under the terms of the contract and the applicable law.
Proceedings subsequent to issuance of awardInterpretation and correction of awards
Does the arbitral tribunal have the power to correct or interpret an award on its own or at the parties’ initiative? What time limits apply?
The ADR grants the arbitrator the power to correct any clerical, typographical, technical or computational error in the award, and to make an additional award in respect of a claim presented to the arbitrator but omitted from the award. Such corrections can be effected at the instance of the arbitrator or at the request of a party, within 28 days of delivering an award or such longer period as the parties may agree on, upon giving 14 days’ notice to the parties. The law is silent with respect to the power of the tribunal to interpret the award.Challenge of awards
How and on what grounds can awards be challenged and set aside?
The validity of an award can be challenged on a number of grounds. Among several others, the existence of any of the factors outlined below can provide a basis for challenging the award:
- a party to the arbitration was under some form of disability or incapacity;
- the law applicable to the arbitration agreement is not valid;
- the applicant was not given notice of the appointment of the arbitrator or of the proceedings, or was unable to present the applicant’s case;
- the award deals with a dispute not within the scope of the arbitration agreement or outside the agreement, except that the court shall not set aside any part of the award that falls within the agreement;
- there has been a failure to conform to the agreed procedure by the parties;
- the arbitrator has an interest in the subject matter of arbitration that the arbitrator failed to disclose;
- the subject matter of the dispute is not capable of settlement by arbitration under the laws of Ghana; or
- the award is in conflict with public policy.
A party who alleges that any of the above-stated factors have impugned the credibility of the award is required to apply to the High Court to set aside the award.Levels of appeal
How many levels of appeal are there? How long does it generally take until a challenge is decided at each level? Approximately what costs are incurred at each level? How are costs apportioned among the parties?
The ADR Act does not permit the parties to appeal on the merits of the decision of an arbitrator or arbitral tribunal. However, an aggrieved party may apply to the High Court to set aside the arbitral award.
A party who wishes to set aside an arbitral award for any irregularity is required to apply to the High Court. If the party is dissatisfied with the ruling of the Court, an appeal lies, as of right, to the Court of Appeal. The ADR Act is silent on the costs to be incurred and the time frame. The parties will be required to bear their own costs unless the court decides otherwise. Regarding the time frame, it is difficult to determine beforehand how long it will take for a challenge to be decided at each level. It will depend largely on the number of cases to be decided by the court at each period.Recognition and enforcement
What requirements exist for recognition and enforcement of domestic and foreign awards, what grounds exist for refusing recognition and enforcement, and what is the procedure?
An award will generally be recognised when it satisfies the requirements of due process and natural justice. An award shall be enforced in the same manner as a judgment or order of the High Court.
In order for a foreign award to be enforceable, it must satisfy the following requirements:
- it was rendered by a competent authority under the laws of the country where the award was made;
- a reciprocal agreement exists between Ghana and the country in which the award was made;
- the award was made under the international convention specified in the First Schedule to the ADR Act;
- the party has produced the original award or a certified copy thereof, and the agreement pursuant to which the award was made or a duly authenticated copy; and
- there is no appeal pending against the award in any court under the law applicable to the arbitration.
An award may not be enforced where it is shown that the arbitrator lacked jurisdiction to make the award.Time limits for enforcement of arbitral awards
Is there a limitation period for the enforcement of arbitral awards?
Yes, an action to enforce an arbitral award may not be brought after 12 years from the date of the delivery of the award. The Limitation Act 1972 (NRCD 54) provides that an arbitration award under an arbitration agreement under seal shall not be enforced after 12 years. This limitation applies to arbitration agreements under the ADR Act because the Act specifically provides that an arbitration agreement is only enforceable where it is in writing, and arbitration agreements are separable from the main or substantive underlying agreement.Enforcement of foreign awards
What is the attitude of domestic courts to the enforcement of foreign awards set aside by the courts at the place of arbitration?
The ADR Act clearly provides that a foreign arbitral award that has been annulled (and by implication set aside) in the country in which it was given cannot be enforced in Ghana, and the courts are likely to uphold this provision.Enforcement of orders by emergency arbitrators
Does your domestic arbitration legislation, case law or the rules of domestic arbitration institutions provide for the enforcement of orders by emergency arbitrators?
The ADR Act and the rules of the Ghana Arbitration Centre do not provide for emergency arbitrators or the enforcement of orders made by emergency arbitrators. However, a court of competent jurisdiction, under its inherent powers, may enforce an order made by an emergency arbitrator where the court considers it fair and just to do so.Cost of enforcement
What costs are incurred in enforcing awards?
The ADR Act does not have express provisions dealing with the costs of enforcing awards. However, it can be reasonably expected that the person who seeks to enforce either a domestic or foreign award shall bear the full costs associated with the enforcement.
OtherInfluence of legal traditions on arbitrators
What dominant features of your judicial system might exert an influence on an arbitrator from your jurisdiction?
The legal system of Ghana follows the common law tradition. The various rules pertaining to this system in the area of evidence and procedure will provide the guiding framework for the conduct of arbitration in Ghana. An arbitrator will therefore be required to follow and observe the general rules of common law and equity in the discharge of his or her responsibilities.
As a general rule, parties are required to appear in person or be represented by counsel during the arbitral proceedings. This does not preclude the possibility of submitting a written statement in lieu of appearance before the arbitrator or the tribunal.
In effect, the law provides a great deal of discretion to the parties to decide the mode of submitting evidence for the consideration of the arbitrator or the tribunal.Professional or ethical rules
Are specific professional or ethical rules applicable to counsel and arbitrators in international arbitration in your jurisdiction? Does best practice in your jurisdiction reflect (or contradict) the IBA Guidelines on Party Representation in International Arbitration?
The ADR Act does not specify any specific professional or ethical rules to be followed by counsel in international arbitration. However, generally, lawyers have an ethical duty to the court, the client and the legal profession. Under the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct and Etiquette) Rules 1969 (LI 623), a lawyer has a duty to behave with the utmost honesty and with frankness when dealing with clients and the courts.
The ADR Act provides in relevant part that a party may be represented by counsel or any other person chosen by the party. Also, where a party intends to be represented at the arbitration proceedings, the person is required to give at least seven days’ notice to the other party before the commencement of the arbitration.
Although the ADR Act does not specifically state how a party’s representative can be changed during the proceedings, largely best practice is that it is not advisable for the parties to change their representatives once the proceedings have begun.Third-party funding
Is third-party funding of arbitral claims in your jurisdiction subject to regulatory restrictions?
No, the ADR Act does not have any express provisions restricting third-party funding of arbitral claims. The concept of third-party funding of arbitral claims is not a common practice in Ghana, and most parties that opt to arbitrate their claims provide the funding from their own resources.
However, considering that there is no express statutory restriction of the practice, it is unlikely that third-party funding of arbitral claims will be disallowed. However, the full details of any such arrangement must be disclosed to the arbitrator and the other party in order for any conflict of interest checks to be carried out by all the parties to the arbitration.Regulation of activities
What particularities exist in your jurisdiction that a foreign practitioner should be aware of?
The ADR Act does not place any limitation on the participation of foreigners in an arbitration proceeding. The parties to the arbitration are at liberty to appoint a person without experience or qualifications relevant to the subject of the dispute as an arbitrator.
However, a foreign practitioner must be conversant with the common law system used in Ghana and the impact it has on arbitration practice generally.
A foreign practitioner will also be required to obtain a resident and work permit to engage in any form of employment. The practitioner is further required to pay the appropriate taxes on the income obtained from rendering professional services.
Apart from these general observations, a practitioner will not face any other legal and administrative challenges in the discharge of his or her responsibilities.
Update and trendsLegislative reform and investment treaty arbitration
Are there any emerging trends or hot topics in arbitration in your country? Is the arbitration law of your jurisdiction currently the subject of legislative reform? Are the rules of the domestic arbitration institutions mentioned above currently being revised? Have any bilateral investment treaties recently been terminated? If so, which ones? Is there any intention to terminate any of these bilateral investment treaties? If so, which ones? What are the main recent decisions in the field of international investment arbitration to which your country was a party? Are there any pending investment arbitration cases in which the country you are reporting about is a party?Legislative reform and investment treaty arbitration57 Are there any emerging trends or hot topics in arbitration in your country? Is the arbitration law of your jurisdiction currently the subject of legislative reform? Are the rules of the domestic arbitration institutions mentioned above currently being revised? Have any bilateral investment treaties recently been terminated? If so, which ones? Is there any intention to terminate any of these bilateral investment treaties? If so, which ones? What are the main recent decisions in the field of international investment arbitration to which your country was a party? Are there any pending investment arbitration cases in which the country you are reporting about is a party?