9 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Country Wants Brit Removed From Mining Arbitration Panel

Zimbabwe's Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) is unhappy with the appointment of a British national on an arbitration panel. The arbitration involves a US$35 million dispute between the ZMDC and two international mining companies.

Not only is the ZMDC unhappy that there's a Brit on the panel, but they also want the South African judge removed from the case.

Amaplat Mauritius and Amari Nickel Holdings Zimbabwe are suing the ZMDC for cancelling Memorandums of Understanding they had entered into for platinum and nickel concessions.

The two companies want US$35 million for damages they claim to have suffered as a result of the cancellation.

On the arbitration panel are Mr Stewart Isaacs, a UK barrister, nominated by the UK International Chamber of Commerce national committee to chair the tribunal. South African judge Justice Meyer Joffe is a nominee of Amaplats and Zim lawyer James Mutizwa was nominated by the ZMDC, but has since resigned.

The ZMDC claim that a British national will be biased against them, because it was the EU that imposed targeted sanctions on Mugabe and his ruling elite. They said it was impossible for him to be impartial, when his country is not.

They also claim he has persuaded the South African judge to be biased against them.

They had tried to have the two removed by taking the issue to court in Cape Town, but it was thrown out. The ZMDC then went to the International Court of Arbitration in Paris, France, and again lost the case.

But they then went to the High Court of Zambia where they finally got a provisional order stopping all the arbitration proceedings, until the dispute was finalised.

Yet another case that will convince any potential investors that it's better to steer clear of Zimbabwe.

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