OHADA 20 years on: Fight against corruption overdue

By Nila Wilde, Webber Wentzel
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Corruption “undermines democratic institutions, retards economic development and contributes to government instability … Economic development is stunted because outside direct investment is discouraged and small businesses within the country often find it impossible to overcome the ‘start-up costs’ required because of corruption,” states the Global Programme Against Corruption.

Nila Wilde
Nila Wilde

A tenet of the preamble of the treaty of the Organisation pour l’Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires (Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa, OHADA) is that member states are conscious of applying the law diligently in conditions guaranteeing the legal security of economic activities to ensure their rapid expansion and to encourage investment.

Evolution

Aimed at providing legal stability in commercial fields, OHADA was formed in 1993 as a regional organization seeking to establish a unified set of business laws to be used in its member states, all of which use civil, as opposed to common, law and all of which, except Guinea Bissau, are francophone countries. One of the key OHADA objectives is to equip member states with a single legal framework that is simple, modern and malleable enough to suit their diverse economic systems. The nine OHADA statutes in force span subjects such as company, insolvency, arbitration and securities law, and methods of execution and debt recovery.

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Nila Wilde is an associate at Webber Wentzel, one of the leading corporate law firms in Africa and the South African member of ALN, an established group of Africa’s 12 foremost law firms. A longer version of this article appeared in DealMakers Q1 2013.

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