FTAA – NEGOTIATING GROUP ON DISPUTE SETTLEMENT
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
1. International Agreements
a. Is the jurisdiction a party to the Convention of the Recognition and
Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, done at New York on 10 June 1958
(New York Convention). If so, are there any reservations? Name the domestic
law that implements these commitments.
Trinidad and Tobago acceded to the United Nations Convention on the
Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York, 1958) on
14 February 1966. The Arbitration (Foreign Arbitral Awards) Act 1996 is the
domestic implementing legislation currently in force.
b. Is the jurisdiction a party to the Convention on the Settlement of
Investment Disputes Between States and Nationals of Other States, done at
Washington on 18 March 1965 (ICSID Convention)? Is there a domestic
implementing law? Is the jurisdiction a party to any bilateral investment
treaties providing for settlement of investment disputes between a state and
a national of another state?
Trinidad and Tobago ratified the Convention on the Settlement of Investment
Disputes Between States and Nationals of Other States, done at Washington on
18 March 1965, on January 3 1967. There is no existing domestic law.
c. Is the jurisdiction a party to the Inter-American Convention on
International Commercial Arbitration, signed in Panama on 30 January 1975
(Panama Convention)? Is there a domestic implementing law?
Trinidad and Tobago is not a party to the Inter-American Convention on
International Commercial Arbitration, signed in Panama on 30 January 1975.
d. Is the jurisdiction a party to any other international agreement
related to international commercial arbitration?
Trinidad and Tobago is not a party to any other agreement relating to
international commercial arbitration.
a. What is the source of law for international commercial arbitration within
your jurisdiction? Please cite.
The source of law for international commercial arbitration within T&T’s
jurisdiction are The Arbitration Act Ch. 5:01 Laws of Trinidad and Tobago
and The Arbitration (Foreign Arbitral Awards) Act 1996. The latter Act gives
effect to the Convention on the Recognition and enforcement of Foreign
arbitral awards 10 June 1958 or the New York Convention.
b. Does the law contain different rules for domestic and international
The law does not contain different rules for domestic and international
arbitration. According to 5:36 of The Arbitration Act 1939:-
“This Act applies in relation to every arbitration under any other written
law passed before or after the coming into force of this Act as if the
arbitration were pursuant to an arbitration agreement and as if that other
written law were an arbitration agreement…except in so far as this Act is
inconsistent with the other written law regulating the arbitration or with
any rules or procedure authorized or recognized by that other written law”
Thus this legislation will apply unless the Arbitration (Foreign Arbitral
Awards) Act 1996 contains different provisions, wherein these provisions
will supersede the provisions of the 1939 Act.
c. Are there limitations on the types of disputes that may be arbitrated?
In the 1996 Act, there are limitations to the types of disputes that may be
arbitrated. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago declares that it will
apply the convention only to differences arising out of legal relationships,
whether contractual or not, which are considered as commercial under the law
of Trinidad and Tobago.
d. Does the law specify rules for arbitration or do the parties have
autonomy to set their rules?
The parties do have the autonomy to set their own rules to a certain extent.
The parties must include in their arbitration agreements the First Schedule
attached to the Arbitration Act (A) 1939. This is in accordance with Section
4AA 1939 which states:-
“An arbitration agreement, unless a contrary intention is expressed therein,
shall be deemed to include the provisions set out in the First Schedule, so
far as they are applicable to the reference under the arbitration
e. What is the role of the courts during an arbitration? May courts
intervene prior to or during the arbitration process?
The Court has no role in arbitration unless any party to the arbitration
seeks to enforce the assistance of the Court for reasons which are hereafter
Yes. The courts can intervene prior to or during the arbitration process:-
Section 7 AA 1939 gives the court the power to stay proceedings where there
is an arbitration agreement.
Section 8 AA gives the court the power in certain cases to appoint an
arbitrator, umpire or third arbitrator.
Section 11(1) AA gives the court the power to remove an arbitrator.
Section 12(1) AA gives the court the power to give relief where the
arbitrator is not impartial or the dispute referred involves question of
f. Can the courts grant interim relief pending the outcome of an
The First Schedule, Section 10 AA 1939 allows for the arbitrators or umpire,
if they think fit, to make an interim award. Section 32(2) AA 1939 allows
for the courts to give directions with respect to interim awards.
g. Does the law require citizenship or a particular bar membership for
participation in an arbitral proceeding, as arbiter or representative of a
The law is not specific in terms of the requirements of an arbitrator,
however given the nature of the instances where the Court may intervene in
arbitration it would appear that the arbitrator should be able to give an
unbiased judgment based on experience in the relevant field and knowledge or
Court proceedings and the legal system would be advantageous. In the test
“International Arbitration” by J.L. Simpson & Hazel Cox (1959) it is
suggested that the usual practice is to have the parties choose the
arbitrators. It must be established whether there would be a three-member
tribunal or a single arbitrator. The parties should also agree upon at least
one neutral arbitrator, that is, one who belongs to either party.
h. Does the law require that the proceedings be conducted in a particular
Yes. Article IV (2) Arbitration (Foreign Arbitral Awards) Act 1996, requires
that the proceedings be conducted in the official language of the country in
which the award is relied upon. Thus in Trinidad and Tobago, the official
language for such proceedings is English.
i. Does the law have mandatory choice of law provisions?
There are no mandatory choice of law provisions save for the provision where
Article 1 of the 1996 New York Conventions states that the convention will
“the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards made in the territory of
a State other than the State where the recognition and enforcement of such
awards are sought, and arising out of differences between persons whether
physical or legal. It shall also apply to arbitral awards not considered as
domestic awards in the State where their recognition and enforcement are
j. Does the arbitration law prescribe rules for decision making by the
arbiters and the form of an award?
The arbitration law also provides rules for the form of an award under
Sections 20, 21 and 22 of the AA 1939 which provide for enforcing an award,
interest on awards and provision as to costs.
k. Is the confidentiality of arbitral proceedings and awards protected by
There is no specific provision the Act that states the confidentiality of
arbitral proceedings and awards are protected by law.
l. On what grounds will the courts set aside or decline to enforce and
The grounds on which the court will set aside or decline to enforce an award
are to be found in Sections 18, 19 Arbitration Act 1939 and Section 6
Arbitration (Foreign Arbitral) Act 1996.
m. What is the procedure for the enforcement of an award?
The procedure for the enforcement of an award is to be found in Sections 20,
21 Arbitration Act 1939 and Section 5 Arbitration (Foreign Arbitral) Act
n. Please list any institutions available within your jurisdiction that
provide international commercial arbitration services. Provide internet
address where available.
There are currently no institutions within Trinidad and Tobago that provide
international commercial arbitration services.
3. Alternative forms of Dispute Resolution (ADR)
a. Are other forms of alternative dispute resolution (mediation,
conciliation) available for the resolution of commercial disputes within
Presently, there is the Community Mediation Act (No. 13 of 1998). This Act
provides an alternative to going to Court for certain Summary Offences and
b. Does the law or do the courts mandate or encourage the use of ADR in
commercial disputes? Are there any legal impediments to using ADR for the
resolution of commercial disputes?
T&T has only recently introduced the use of ADR in our community. The law
has been encouraging the use of ADR in several areas as stated in the Act –
this would include the use of ADR in commercial disputes. The private sector
in T&T has taken an active part in promoting mediation as an alternative
means of conflict resolution. At this point, one cannot say if there are any
legal impediments to using ADR for the resolution of commercial disputes.
c. Can courts enforce agreements to mediate or use other forms of
non-binding dispute resolution in commercial disputes?
The courts can/cannot enforce agreements to mediate in commercial disputes.
d. Are there any organizations that specialize in ADR for commercial
disputes not already mentioned?
An Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre has been established in T&T for the
training of Mediators.
e. What rules govern confidentiality and admissibility of evidence in other