21 April 2005

Cameroon: South West - OHADA : Anglophone Lawyers Want Modification

- English speaking law practitioners of Cameroon have resolved to implement the October 17, 1993 harmonized approach to the business law for Africa (OHADA). Some 30 Judges, Magistrates, Court Registrers, Bailiffs and Barristers met in Buea on April 15th, under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice.

The men of law had a heated debate over article 42 of the OHADA Law, which limits their working language to French only. OHADA, the brainchild of the political will of 16 African States, including Cameroon, created under a joint treaty in 1993 to harmonize their business laws has earned critism from Anglophone lawyers of the bi-jural Cameroon. They want that the law be written in both French and English so that Anglophone layers could apply it without constrains.

According to Lord Justice Joseph Fonkwe, accredited trainer of OHADA Law from the Porto Novo (Benin) Higher School of Magistracy and Judge of the Cameroon Supreme Court, "the translation of OHADA Law to modify its article 42 is inevitable, especially as economic giants like Nigeria and Ghana are knocking at the door of OHADA."

The Buea workshop provided a novelty, extending its scope to cover the transportation of goods by land and corporate criminal responsibility enacted by the uniform acts with criminal sanctions, according to law No 2003/008 of July 10, 2003 on the OHADA uniform acts. The lawyers also examined the difficulties involved in the application of criminal business law in the entire OHADA sub-region.

Omarou Bamanga, who represented the Justice Ministerlauded the lawyers' initiative, adding that "the government attaches a lot of importance to the sound training of the personnel of the Ministry of Justice in order to render the justice system more transparent and apt." The OHADA legislation, Omarou stressed, seeks to strengthen Africa's legal system, guarantee security for business and investment as well as promote good governance.

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