International Judicial Monitor
Published by the International judicial Academy of the International Law Institute, Washington, D.C.
with circulation assistance from the American Society of International Law

Fall 2017 Issue

International Tribunal Spotlight


Common Court of Justice  and Arbitration (CCJA) for the Harmonization of Corporate Law in Africa (OHADA)

Common Court of Justice and Arbitration

By: James G. Apple, Editor-in-Chief, International Judicial Monitor

Many African states, in their efforts to be involved with modern commercial practices not only in their specific areas, but also in relationships to other nations and the international community, find that their business and commercial laws, dating back to colonial eras, are not suitable for modern commercial transactions and commercial relationships. Efforts for reform have not been successful. As a result 17 African states combined together (mostly Francophone) to upgrade the legal systems of these states, especially for foreign and international transactions. OHADA’s objective is to put together common and simple laws that would be fitting and satisfactory enough to lure foreign investors back to the region. A key element of this effort is the promotion of arbitration as the principal dispute resolution method for trade related disputes.

OHADA was established by the Treaty on the Harmonization of Business Law signed on October 17, 1993 in Port Louis, Mauritius. The laws of OHADA are focused exclusively on business and commercial issues.

Organs of OHADA include the Council of Justice and Finance, a Permanent Secretariat, and the Common Court of Justice and Arbitration.

The key work of OHADA can be found in the Uniform Acts, which are now nine in number. They are:

General Commercial Law
Commercial Companies and Economic       Interest Groups


Secured Transaction Law
Debt Resolution Law
Insolvency Law
Arbitration Law
Harmonization of Corporate Accounting
Contracts for the Carriage of Goods
Cooperatives Companies Law

Member States of OHADA are:

Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali,Niger, Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Togo

The Treaty is open for membership (accession) to any Member State of the Organization of African Unity, and other states not a member of OAU who is approved by the OAU Member States.

The OHADA Treaty created the Common Court of  Justice and Arbitration to “insure uniformity and consistent legal interpretations across the member countries.” It acts as the supreme court of the international organization.

The Court’s proceedings reflect a French influence as a result of the French colonialism that is a part of the history of many of the member states. As the name suggests, the Court has a definite bias in favor of arbitration and the arbitral process.  Its decisions to date reflect that bias. Rules of procedure were adopted by the Court in 1996.

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© 2017 – The International Judicial Academy
with assistance from the American Society of International Law.

Editor: James G. Apple.
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