As reported in an earlier post, the Myanmar Parliament on 6 March 2013 approved plans to sign the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the “Convention”). While this was seen as a positive step on the part of the Myanmar government, it was unclear as to the timeframe within which Myanmar would accede to the Convention.
In a move that should encourage foreign investors, Myanmar is understood to have deposited an instrument of accession with the Secretary-General of the United Nations (the “Secretary-General”) on 16 April 2013 , consenting to be bound by the Convention, and thereby acceding to it (see UN Journal 25 April 2013). Accession has the same legal effect as ratification.
The Convention should come into force in Myanmar on 15 July 2013, ninety days after the instrument of accession was deposited with the Secretary-General (in accordance with the Convention). The Secretary-General has yet to issue a formal depositary notification, publicising the terms of Myanmar’s accession. Amongst other details, it is unknown whether Myanmar has made any reservations prior to acceding to the Convention. When a state gives its consent to be bound by the Convention it may do so absolutely or it may make certain reservations, limiting the extent to which it will be bound. For example, a state may declare that it will recognise and enforce only awards made in the territory another New York Convention state, or awards made in a non-Convention territory that grants reciprocal treatment, or that it will apply the Convention only in relation to disputes of a commercial nature.
Myanmar’s decisive action to accede to the Convention is significant. Nevertheless, as reported earlier, in order for the Convention to be effective in Myanmar, it must be implemented by amending existing domestic legislation or enacting new domestic legislation to provide a framework for the enforcement of foreign awards – the details of which are awaited.
Herbert Smith Freehills has recently published a Myanmar Investment Guide. Please email email@example.com if you are interested in obtaining a copy. In addition, we have close relationships with highly-regarded legal firms in Yangon and currently have a senior corporate associate from our offices in Singapore based in Yangon, working with a local law firm. With the ability to work so closely alongside lawyers in the local market, Herbert Smith Freehills is able to provide a seamless service to clients on Myanmar matters. If you would like further information on Myanmar, please contact Alastair Henderson or Kritika Venugopal.