FIVE arbitration experts were honoured for their exemplary leadership and success in Africa arbitration on the sidelines of the annual East Africa International Arbitration Conference held virtually at the end of August.
The Africa Arbitration Awards, incorporated in 2019, aims to celebrate, recognise and honour outstanding practitioners and leaders in the Africa arbitration ecosystem. This platform forms part of the organisers’ vision of building international arbitration capacity, expanding Africa’s networks as we promote, profile and celebrate Africa’s success in international arbitration.
The Awards comprise five categories in which individual nominees must be African, and nominee organisations must have incorporated offices in Africa. The categories are:
- African Arbitrator of the Year (over 40 years);
- Young Arbitration Practitioner of the Year (under 40 years);
- Leading Case Counsel Team;
- Leading Arbitration Services Provider; and
- Innovation in Arbitration
The Africa Arbitration Awards 2020 Winners
Thousands of votes were cast by the arbitration community globally. The winners reflected the best that Africa has to offer in international arbitration expertise. The 2020 Africa Arbitration Award Winners were announced and celebrated in a virtual ceremony that was broadcast live on Zoom, YouTube and the Conference Portal.
The African Arbitrator of the Year 2020 was Dorothy Ufot. A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dorothy is founding and Managing Partner of Dorothy Ufot & Co, a leading law firm in Nigeria. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK) and a Chartered Arbitrator. She has conducted arbitrations under the ICC, SCC, ICSID, DIAC, LCIA, and the RCICAL Rules as either a Sole Arbitrator or a member of a panel of three Arbitrators. Speaking to Arise News in Nigeria, Dorothy said, ‘The win came from a journey of several years of being involved in complex investment and commercial disputes with the international arbitration community watching you.’ Dorothy recalled her challenging work as arbitrator in investment arbitration cases involving billions of dollars that were in the public domain.
The Young Arbitration Practitioner of the Year 2020 was Madeline Kimei, the CEO of iResolve Tanzania. An advocate, arbitrator and accredited commercial mediator and dispute resolution specialist, Madeline is a member of the Tanzania Institute of Arbitrators (TIArb), National Construction Council Tanzania and the ICC Court. Madeline also won the Stephenson Harwood Prize for the Young Arbitration Practitioner of the Year, being a one (1) year mentorship programme with the Stephenson Harwood team of partners and associates, and leading arbitration practitioners. Madeline said she was ‘overjoyed with joy and happiness to receive the award, and thanked the global arbitration community, who had become her life challengers, companions, friends, mentors and inspirers.’
The Leading Case Counsel Team 2020 was the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Speaking to Arise News Nigeria, Khalid said that, ‘the award showed that NNPC is not just Africa’s greatest producer of hydrocarbons in Africa, but also a compliant company when it comes to processes and procedures. Khalid praised the NNPC’s robust Litigation and Arbitration Team for the win.
The Leading Arbitration Services Provider 2020 was JMiles & Co., a Nairobi-based legal consultancy that provides specialised advice on international arbitration, mediation, fraud investigation and asset chasing, in addition to legal consulting. JMiles & Co has represented clients, (both governments and the private sector) on disputes subject to international arbitration before Tribunals of the ICC, LMAA, ICSID, LCIA, DIFC-LCIA, GAFTA, FOSFA, and KIAC as well as disputes subject to UNCITRAL.
The Innovation in Arbitration 2020 award went to the Africa Arbitration Academy, an initiative of the Association of Young Arbitrators (AYA). The Academy was established due to the rising demand for improved expertise and training of arbitration practitioners in Africa, and to expose the young practitioners to the current trends and developments in international commercial and investment arbitration. The inaugural Academy programme was held in London in June 2019. The Africa Arbitration Academy, recently in 2020 launched the Africa 50 list of Africa’s top 50 young arbitrators, and the Africa Arbitration Academy Protocol on Virtual Hearings in Africa that was nominated for the Global Arbitration Review (GAR) Pandemic Response Award 2020.
The Africa Arbitration Awards will continue to spotlight Africa’s expertise in international commercial and investment arbitration. Arbitrators, practitioners, case teams and service providers are encouraged to submit nominations and showcase their talent. There are inspiring success stories to be written about arbitration in Africa, and the EAIAC Committee and the Africa Arbitration Awards are part of that. 2021 will be an even better year of celebration.
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