Angola is to become the 157th signatory state to the New York Convention, paving the way for the first time to the effective recognition and enforcement in Angola of awards rendered outside Angola.

Angola’s accession was approved by Resolution No. 38/2016 of 12 August 2016 of the Angolan National Assembly, but is yet to take effect. Angola now needs to deposit the resolution with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, with the convention then coming into force after a further 90 days.

As do many states, Angola will accede to the New York Convention subject to the reciprocity reservation, whereby it will apply the convention to awards issued in another member state (as opposed to foreign awards as a whole). This signifies the importance of ensuring that arbitrations are seated in a New York Convention member state if enforcement is expected to take place in Angola.

Whilst this is a very welcome development which will potentially attract investment into Angola, it remains to be seen how the Angolan courts will conduct enforcement proceedings brought pursuant to the New York Convention in due course. As arbitration practitioners will be aware, the convention provides an effective framework for the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards but leaves certain important matters to the courts in the country of enforcement; accordingly it does not guarantee enforcement. It is hoped that the courts will, and will be encouraged to, adopt an arbitration-friendly approach, such that the full potential of Angola’s accession to the convention is realised.