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Rwanda Signs Singapore Convention On Mediation

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Rwanda has signed the UN Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation.

The Convention was signed by Rwanda’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Valentine Rugwabiza on Tuesday Morning in New York City.

The Convention facilitates international trade by promoting mediation as an alternative and enforceable method of resolving disputes.

In December 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted, by consensus, the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, recommended that the Convention be known as the “Singapore Convention on Mediation” (the “Singapore Convention” or “Convention”), and authorised the signing ceremony of the Convention to be held in Singapore on
7 August 2019.

The Singapore Convention will facilitate international trade and commerce by enabling disputing parties to easily enforce and invoke settlement agreements across borders.

Businesses will benefit from mediation as an additional dispute resolution option to litigation and arbitration in settling cross-border disputes.

What is the Singapore Convention on Mediation?

A uniform and efficient framework for international settlement agreements resulting from mediation

The Singapore Convention applies to international settlement agreements resulting from mediation, concluded by parties to resolve a commercial dispute.

It provides an efficient and harmonised framework for the enforcement of international settlement agreements resulting from mediation and for allowing parties to invoke such agreements.

The Singapore Convention has been designed to become an essential instrument in the facilitation of international trade and in the promotion of mediation as an alternative and effective method of resolving trade disputes.

It ensures that a settlement reached by parties becomes binding and enforceable in accordance with a simplified and streamlined procedure.

It thereby contributes to strengthening access to justice and the rule of law.

Mediation is known for improving efficiency of dispute resolution and flexibility.

The mediator’s role is not to adjudicate, but rather to facilitate discussions between disputing parties to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution.

The mediation process is more flexible, and in many instances, more cost and time efficient than other dispute resolution processes such as litigation and arbitration.

Until the introduction of the Singapore Convention however, an often-cited challenge to the use of mediation was the lack of an efficient and harmonised framework for cross-border enforcement of settlement agreements resulting from mediation.

It was in response to this need that the Singapore Convention was developed and adopted by the United Nations.

The Convention contributes to the development of a mature, rule-based global commercial system.

The primary goals of the Convention are to:

  • facilitate international trade; and
  • promote the use of mediation for the resolution of cross-border commercial disputes.

Key Features

The Convention applies to international commercial settlement agreements resulting from mediation.

  • It does not apply to settlement agreements that are enforceable as a judgment or as an arbitral award.
  • It also does not apply to settlement agreements concluded for personal, family or household purposes , or relating to family, inheritance or employment law.

The courts of a Party to the Convention are expected to handle applications:

  • To enforce a settlement agreement in accordance with its rules of procedure and under the conditions laid down in the Convention.
  • To allow a party to invoke the settlement agreement in accordance with its rules of procedure and under the conditions laid down in the Convention, in order to prove that the matter was already resolved by the settlement agreement.

The courts of a Party to the Convention may refuse to grant relief on the grounds laid down in the Convention, including:

  • If a party to the settlement agreement was under incapacity.
  • If the settlement agreement is not binding, null and void, inoperative or incapable of being performed under the law which it is subjected to.
  • If there was a serious breach by the conciliator of standards applicable to the conciliator, without which breach that party would not have entered into the settlement agreement.
  • If granting relief would be contrary to the public policy of that Party.

Signing of the Convention

UNCITRAL has requested that governments inform Ms Anna Joubin-Bret, Secretary of UNCITRAL at uncitral@un.org, of the delegation that will represent it at the signing ceremony and which delegation member will sign the Convention.

When contacting the UNCITRAL Secretariat, governments may wish to quote the note verbale from the UNCITRAL Secretariat dated 7 January 2019 (reference: LA/TL 133(3) – CU 2019/1/OLA/ITLD).

 

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Business

Bralirwa Shares Trading Badly On Rwanda Stock Exchange

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Since the just concluded festive season, Rwanda’s largest brewer has not been in good books with its clients as retailers repeatedly complain of lack of some products and  sometimes rationing of beers.

“It is very hard to get grand Primus beers. Every time I send someone to get them from the depot we are told that distributors  haven’t supplied,” says Christine Nyiramariza a bar owner in Gatsibo district.

Trending on twitter is a very confusing situation of Amstel beer filled in Mutzig bottles.

According to Rwanda Stock Exchange, as of Friday, the value of Bralirwa share had dropped to Rwf124.

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Business

Equity Bank Gets £37m From British Agency To Lend SMEs

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UK’s Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford MP (pictured above) said his government was extending a total of £37 million to Equity Bank Kenya for onward lending to small businesses.

“Our economic partnership is delivering impressive results, and we have some ambitious, exciting plans for the future. Plans that will deliver for Kenya, and for the UK, long into our shared future,” she said.

This money is being channeled through UK’s development finance institution British International Investment (BII) – formerly known as CDC Group. BII is a key part of the UK government’s wider plans to mobilise up to £8 billion a year of public and private sector investment in international projects by 2025.

This will include BII partnering with capital markets and sovereign wealth funds to scale up financing and help the private sector move in.

BII will prioritise sustainable infrastructure investment to provide clean, honest and reliable financing and avoid low and middle-income countries being left with bad and unsustainable debt.

Ford also stated that the UK will increase its support for green manufacturing in Kenya by providing an additional £400,000 to help Kenya build a green manufacturing industry, increasing its support to the Ministry of Trade and the wider Kenyan manufacturing sector in this area.

Green manufacturing was highlighted by President Kenyatta at COP26 as a key opportunity for Kenya to create new green jobs.

The funding through the UK’s Manufacturing Africa programme will provide expert analysis and advice on how government policy and the organised private sector can help build this industry and create new green jobs for Kenyans.

Kenya is already the third biggest portfolio for BII, with Sh42 billion investments across 83 companies. Those companies support 36,350 jobs and pay Sh2.6 billion in taxes.

“This is how we will deliver world-class projects, characterised by high standards and outstanding expertise, without forcing huge new debts onto countries such as Kenya,” she said.

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Business

Meet This Female Entrepreneur, Rusamaza, Fixing Property Taxes For Rwandans In Diaspora

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If you own a property and you don’t have the time to manage how these properties are taxed, then there is a likelihood that you could find yourself in tax penalties.

Arguably, the risks for tax penalties are higher for those in the diaspora, for example. Such cases are no exception in Rwanda, where members of the diaspora community find themselves in tax penalties they have no knowledge about because they are miles away to understand the policies that affect their properties.

Iwacu Diaspora (IDN), a local company aspires to bring Rwandans closer to their properties in distance.

Daniella Rusamaza, the founder of the Iwacu Diaspora is a solution for the problem at hand.

She follows up properties of Rwandans living abroad, manages their properties, and makes sure that they have no tax illegalities.

Prior to launching the company, Rusamaza worked as a bank attendant, where she attended clients from diaspora whose properties were depreciating because they had no agent to look after them.  

According to Rusamaza, Iwacu Diaspora company ltd is a brainchild of a dire need to bring nearer the diaspora people to their properties.

“The idea of starting this company came when I was still a bank attendant where I worked for six years dealing with Rwandans in Diaspora who sought different services such as loans. Most of these people I met, however, highlighted the challenge of managing the properties they left home including houses, land, and other personal services. And I was inspired to start a company,” she says.

During her tenure as a bank attendant, Rusamaza learnt that the majority of Rwandans who lived abroad were hampered by the inability to manage their properties back home particularly those with rental houses, and at times, she could hear them lamenting for not being paid on time.

Furthermore, she discovered a number of Rwandans were incurring losses as a result of tax penalties and these discouraged their will of re-investments at home as a result.

“Through these challenges, I was inspired to start my company that would provide a solution to the problem at hand.” 

As a way of achieving the company’s target, for instance, Iwacu Company Diaspora Network is currently helping taxpayers in the diaspora to pay property taxes before they are caught with Rwanda Revenue Authority deadline scheduled to end on 31 this month.  

In addition, Rusamaza warns that delaying to declare taxes attracts unnecessary fines which the taxpayers can avoid before time.

“We are now helping diaspora people who want to declare their property tax in Rwanda. We strongly urge people to register before time set because penalties come with losing ownership rights of land and fines.”

“There are a number of people living abroad who have no information on paying taxes, some do not have their local agents to help them to re-register outdated land titles. So we are here as a bridge to help them sort all their tax payment by just accessing their UPI numbers.”

“Rwandans living abroad and those in the country should avoid late tax declaration on deadline because it can attract fines and remittances and the fines are always a burden,” she advises.

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