Arbitration is gradually becoming a medium for the resolution of disputes between contracting parties in Sierra Leone. Parties now frequently include a clause in their contracts for the referral of disputes or differences to arbitration. Under the extant CAP 25 of the Laws of Sierra Leone 1960 (the “Arbitration Act”), the arbitral process does not end with an award being handed down by the arbitrator(s). Rather the award could in limited instances be challenged by the losing party in court. More importantly, the process only comes to an end when the successful party recovers on the award.
Before 2018, Sierra Leone had not joined the New York Convention as a contracting state. However, this will soon change. On November 9, 2018, the Fifth Parliament of the 2nd Republic of Sierra Leone ratified the New York Convention paving the way for Sierra Leone to become the 160th member, and the 36th African country to ratify the New York Convention. The New York Convention would come into force in Sierra Leone 90 days after the deposit of the instrument of ratification. This article seeks to examine what this will mean for commercial arbitration in Sierra Leone. It further seeks to explore what the New York Convention offers, who can benefit from it, and overall, what this means for Sierra Leone.