Mediation Developments in Senegal

The Decree established in 2014 to harmonize existing legal provisions on mediation in Senegal remains one of the main authoritative documents related to the development of both civil and commercial mediation in the country. The Uniform Act, passed on November 23, 2017 in Conakry by the Council of Ministers of OHADA (Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law), has also played an essential role in this matter and serves a complimentary purpose to that of the 2014 Decree. In its 18 articles, the Uniform Act defines and regulates the mediation procedure in its entirety, and can be seen as a new instrument that will help to develop mediation in the countries belonging to the OHADA system. The Uniform Act consolidates the advances made towards the implementation of mediation, fills the gaps existing in countries that lack mediation legislation, significantly strengthens the existing mediation institutions and centers, and increases the number of mediation centers in Africa.

While great strides have been made towards the implementation of mediation in the OHADA system, a number of challenges remain. The main obstacle is the general lack of knowledge related to mediation and the reluctance of some economic operators to adopt the mediation process. Judges, lawyers and other legal professionals also demonstrate reluctance:  lawyers do not have sufficient training in mediation and fail to encourage their clients to opt for this method. In its current state, the law deems mediation optional. As a result, parties resort to mediation only if their attorneys recommend it, an unlikely scenario if the attorneys are untrained in mediation skills.

A great accomplishment of the Senegalese government is the Center for Arbitration, Mediation and Conciliation, or the CAMC. The CAMC was created by public authorities at the initiative of the private sector by Decree no. 98/ 452 in May 1998 and by the Justice Minister’s Order of October 6, 1998. The CAMC was formally opened on March 25, 1999 by the President of Senegal at the time, His Excellency Mr. Abdou Diouf, and has been functioning for 21 years. Originally, the CAMC aimed to achieve two goals: the private sector sought to find a way for the judicial system to meet the needs of the business environment, and the public authorities wished to unclog the courts. The CAMC has three regional branches in cities with strong economic potential, and all three branches have enjoyed notable success, seeing 700 cases with a success rate of almost 95%. At its Dakar headquarters, the CAMC closed over 400 mediation cases for disputes having to do with construction, structural work, sales and shipping.

In addition to its efforts to organize and manage arbitration and mediation procedures, the CAMC has the mission to train authorized mediators and arbitrators to ensure that they are up to date with the latest techniques. So far, 80 mediators have completed trainings throughout the country and they all work at the CAMC. As part of this initative, the center has organized 25 training seminars on mediation and arbitration countrywide, in collaboration with the Université de Dakar, the IMAQ of Montreal and the Université de Sheerbrook, Canada. Through these combined efforts and at both an international and sub-regional level, the CAMC has trained 120 mediators in Benin, Burkina Faso, and Mali in cooperation with the Arbitration Centers in these countries.

By Thierno Diallo, Senior Fellow-Senegal, Weinstein International Foundation

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