North African Lawyers Commend ALSF-PALU Training Opportunities

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North African Lawyers have commended the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) and the Pan African Lawyers Union’s (PALU) recent capacity-building seminar, noting that “it opens new horizons for us.” The lawyers participated in the seminar which took place from January 24 to 26, 2012 in Tunis.

Reacting to the outcomes, they expressed their appreciation of the opportunity the training programme has offered them, with regards to sensitive clauses in international contracts, project finance and alternative methods of dispute resolution. The lawyers were also interested in presentations on Vulture Funds and expressed the need to have national legislation against them.  “We have reached a milestone in our corporation’s life and I am glad we have taken great advantage of our complementarity with our counterparts from Sub-Sahara Africa,” Tunis Bar president, Chawki Tabib said.

For his part, Walid Shaker Hegazy, managing partner, Hegazy & Associates affirmed: “The seminar has provided us with opportunity to advance in our profession.” He also said: “Most of us here now have a better understanding of the African Development Bank’s operations.”

The Tunisian government legal adviser in the Prime Minister’s office, Houda Nefzaoui Mimouni, also said: “This kind of meetings between government and private practitioners, key donors such as the African Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and law experts, take place only once in a blue moon.”  

The lawyers however expressed the need for such training to continue, to give them full ownership of what they have learnt during the seminar.

ALSF and PALU welcomed the fact that the six countries invited were well represented (an average of five participants per country) by legal practitioners from public and private sectors.

Launched in 2009, the ALSF was initiated by the African Development Bank (AfDB) at a time when “vulture funds” were expanding. At the end of 2007, half of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries surveyed by the International Monetary Fund were facing litigation. The mission of the Facility is to provide African countries and highly indebted countries in particular, with access to legal advice for the resolution of commercial litigation as well as rectification of the asymmetry of negotiating capabilities.

PALU’s mission is to work towards the development of the law and legal profession, the rule of law, human rights and socio-economic developments in Africa, including through supporting the continent’s integration. PALU is a consortium of all national Bar Associations in Africa.

As part of their continuing efforts to strengthen law systems across the entire continent, ALSF and PALU plan to organize similar seminars in all African countries, to create a truly regional dissemination, and knowledge-sharing system.

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