Mauritius is ranked number one on the African continent by the World Bank when it comes to the foreign investment climate. It is also among the first on the world list of countries enjoying economic freedom. The country is strategically located between Asia and Africa, making it an important platform for investments, in particular following the adoption of a range of non-double taxation and bilateral investment treaties with key countries such as India or South Africa. In addition to being a fully bilingual country in English and French, Mauritius has an interesting legal tradition combining the Common Law and Civil Law systems.
Mauritius is aiming to become a seat of international arbitration and has launched various initiatives over the last decade. Briefly listed below some of the benefits that demonstrate the attractiveness of the country as a seat of arbitration.
In 2004, the country ratified the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. Thereafter, in 2008, Mauritius adopted a law on arbitration based on the UNCITRAL Model Law, thereby setting up a separate and favourable legal regime for international arbitration, in its various forms (commercial and investment arbitration). The Mauritian courts have been very supportive of international arbitration in general. For instance, in the case Pieter Both Property Development Ltd v Chemin Grenier Industries Ltd(2013 SCJ 279), the Supreme Court upheld the separability of the arbitration clause from the main contract and its validity even when the contract was invalid. Recently, in Cruz City 1 v Unitech Ltd Mauritius Holdings and others (2014 SCJ 100), the Supreme Court acknowledged the enforceability of an arbitral award rendered by the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) and rejected arguments based on the violation of the constitution and of public policy.
A year later, Mauritius concluded an agreement with the Permanent Court of Arbitration for the establishment of a permanent office in the country. Moreover, since 2010, the country hosts every year a series of lectures on current issues pertaining to arbitration often organized under the aegis of major arbitral institutions. In 2011, the Mauritian Arbitration Centre International (MIAC) was established following the agreement concluded between Mauritius and the LCIA. Finally, the country will also host the International Council for Commercial Arbitration Congress (ICCA) in 2016, which will be held for the first time on the African continent.
The international arbitration community strongly welcomed the strong commitment made by Mauritius to become one of the world seats - and the African seat - of international arbitration.