Cameroon has a bijural legal system inspired from the English Common Law system and the Continental Civil Law system. This means that there are two legal systems functioning side by side, although parliament has made some efforts to harmonise several areas of law, including both substantive and procedural aspects. In one part of the country, you have one system of procedural law which applies and another in the other part of the country. However, the court system is uniform with courts of original jurisdiction (courts of first instance, high courts, administrative courts, military courts, audit courts, special criminal court) and courts of appeal, a supreme court, the OHADA Common Court of Justice & Arbitration (CCJA) which sits in as a supreme court to review business matters from courts of appeal in OHADA member states. Other courts include the CEMAC regional Common Court of Justice which interprets CEMAC regional regulations, the African Intellectual Property Organisation’s (AIPO) IP dispute resolution system (administrative commissions for opposition actions, claim of ownership actions, restoration actions and then the High Commission of Appeal or HCA which is the highest adjudicating body in matters of IP within the 17 AIPO member states). Cameroon is equally a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the African Court on Human & Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) which complements the African Commission on Human & Peoples’ Rights of the African Commission, and the UN bodies responsible for the adjudication of disputes relating to international human rights under various treaties.
Our lawyers assist and represent clients before all of these courts as well as before courts within the member states of the Antananarivo General Convention for Judicial Cooperation of September 12, 1961, namely, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Gabon, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Tchad. Cameroon is also a signatory of a judicial cooperation treaty of February 21, 1974 with the French Republic which permits Cameroonian lawyers to assist and represent litigants before French courts and vice versa.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative dispute resolution is on the rise in Cameroon. The main framework is provided by the OHADA Treaty which provides for a mechanism of institutional international commercial & investment arbitration under the auspices of the CCJA which doubles as a judicial body as well as an arbitral body. There are two uniform acts on arbitration (2017) and mediation (2017) under the OHADA Treaty as well. There are other institutions which may intervene in arbitration matters arising from Cameroon such as, the dispute settlement mechanism provided by the Protocol on the Rules & Procedures on the Settlement of Disputes of the Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on trade disputes between AU member states, the dispute settlement mechanism of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the dispute settlement mechanism (negotiation, conciliation and arbitration) instituted by the Seoul Convention of 1985 establishing the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agreement (MIGA), the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), and the investment dispute settlement mechanism of the Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
There are of course a number of domestic dispute resolution bodies such as the GICAM Arbitration Centre (GICAM-AC), the Arbitration Centre of the Cameroon Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Cameroon Bar Association’s Arbitration mechanism. Cameroon has equally ratified the New York Convention on the Recognition & Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. Most businesses and business men who opt for arbitration or mediation, opt for ad hoc proceedings, appointing aforehand the individuals in charge of adjudicating disputes or leaving the responsibility of appointing ad hoc arbitrators with competent courts.
Dayspring Law Firm helps litigants to determine the dispute resolution process that best suits their needs, provides clause and agreement drafting guidance and preparation for commercial, investment and international alternative dispute procedures. We assist to kick-start dispute resolution procedures, provide advocacy services, advise on type and seat of arbitration, the formation of arbitral courts, the arbitral procedure itself, enforcement of arbitral awards, etc. We also act as arbitration, mediation, and conciliation lawyers in ad hoc and institutional arbitration, as well as ad hoc arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators in disputes involving states, corporations, and other investors in industries such as finance, energy, infrastructure, mining, commodities, transport, intellectual property, etc.