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NEWS : Local News  

Sierra Leone News : First Commercial Summit ends in Freetown
By Augustine Samba
Mar 17, 2017, 17:02
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A day Commercial Law Summit ended on Tuesday 14th March 2017 at the Radisson Blu Hotel at Aberdeen in Freetown.  The event, which attracted several important personalities from the business community, private sector, the judiciary, legal professionals, civil society and government officials, was supported by UK Aid and ROLE UK.

 

The all important summit was organized by Herbert Smith Freehills, Standard Chartered Bank, the UK Sierra Leone Pro Bono Network, Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) and UK and Sierra Leone Governments.

 

 

The aim of the summit was to develop and enhance commercial law reforms to promote business and growth in line with the Sierra Leone ongoing economic development as well as the Agenda for prosperity geared towards the 2017 blue print development. 


Giving a keynote address on behalf of the President Ernest Koroma, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, recalled the country’s growth and development since they took power from the opposition in 2007. “President Koroma focuses on rebranding the country’s economy,” he stated, pointing out that the government is committed to improving the private sector. The minister said rapid infrastructural developments have taken place in the last few years, including electricity, water sector, health, governance, roads and private sector growth, amongst others.

 

 

The Minister recalled how the country’s development transition was thwarted by the Ebola scourge, but stated that his government is back on development track.


Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara also told newsmen that Sierra Leone will achieve a lot from the summit, including enhancing commercial law in the country to help the people and promote the business community. “It will enable us to better negotiate in all commercial laws that will help the people of Sierra Leone,” he underscored, citing that, “the mining agreement is one of the areas between the investors and the community.” He disclosed that it will be prudent for the registration of judgment and domesticating international conventions.

 

 

He informed that with commercial laws, the country can create a landmark in international business and investment, citing the UK as an example. He said with commercial laws, Sierra Leone will have the potential to attract investors and other countries in the sub region. “Exchange of ideas and improving on knowledge are the basis of this summit,” he stated, adding that legal professionals and experts from UK, Ghana and investors are here to contribute. 

 

The Chairman, Board of Directors SLIEPA, Oluniyi Robbin-Coker, who doubles as master of ceremony, said Sierra Leone stands to gain a lot of opportunities, especially in the area of investment and economic growth. He said, with this summit, SLIEPA will have the chance that will guaranty the assurance of investors. He noted that the summit is part of Government Agenda for Prosperity. He noted that the law will improve the country’s economic growth and wealth.

 

 

The Chief Justice of Sierra Leone, Justice Hamid Charm, said, on behalf of the Judiciary, that the summit indicates that government wants to create an environment that will attract investors. “Law and Commerce go hand-in-hand,” he stated. He informed that the enforcement of contact law is a locomotive that drives commerce. He emphasized that without the rule of law there will not be investors. 

 

Several issues, including dealing with foreign investors, taking legal advice, sharing best practice on court process, arbitration of land tenure and anti-money laundering, as well as anti-bribery or corruption, were comprehensively discussed during the summit.

 

Organizers say they intend to host serial events across Freetown on commercial law and justice soon. In line with the event, they said best practice workshops will be conducted for judges and lawyers, meeting between Sierra Leoneans judges and Ghanaian counterparts, clinic and resource development for local law libraries, arbitration training and foreign investment negotiation training delivered by Herbert Smith Freehills; and David Mackie Qc will follow-up his 2015 report identifying ways to improve the Fast Track Commercial Court.

 

An investor guide, created by the organizer, was launched at the reception. The guide aims to improve the investor confidence in Sierra Leone, sequel to the Ebola crisis to rebrand the country’s image.

 

In a press release dated 14th March 2017, the Chairman and Senior Partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, James Palmer said: “Sierra Leone’s democratically-elected government continues the task of building the country’s infrastructure and delivering economic growth and jobs, turning Sierra Leone’s natural wealth into benefit for its people. The Commercial Law Summit will actively look at ways in which all stakeholders in the commercial law and justice can promote responsible and sustainable private sector growth, in line with the national Agenda for Prosperity and Ebola Recovery Strategy. Our longstanding pro bono partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone has seen our lawyers put their skills to good use in supporting the government’s response to growing volumes of foreign investment in the country. I and my colleagues are all extremely proud of our partnership with Sierra Leone.”


Many other speakers, including the Chief Justice, partners, as well members of the business community, made statements at the event. 


The programme was climaxed by the launching of a new Sierra Leone Investment Guide Microsoft for public access on www.investinginsierraleone.com.


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