The Democratic Republic of Congo Finalizes Adhesion to the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA)

July 2, 2012

The Democratic Republic of Congo finalized at the end of June 2012 its instruments of adhesion to the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA) in Senegal, depository state of the OHADA Treaty. The filing should occur in the next few days. . The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will have a period of 60 days to apply the OHADA Uniform Acts in the whole of its territory, meaning that they should become applicable in the DRC in September 2012.
The announcement of the adhesion was made by DRC Prime Minister Matata Ponyo Mapon, who declared that it would contribute to the improvement of the business climate in the DRC and give more security to the private sector, which is seen as the engine for development. Minister of Justice and Human Rights Mumba Matipa declared that the DRC was ready to apply the OHADA acts, recalling that preparations had been underway for some time, notably experts’ reports on conformity and the training of magistrates and other members of the justice system, under a government road map strongly supported by the private sector and development partners.

OHADA is a system of business laws and implementing institutions adopted by international treaty in 1993 by 16 West and Central African countries . The treaty is open to all African countries, whether or not they are members of the Organization of African Unity. The purpose of OHADA is to facilitate and encourage both domestic and foreign investment in the member countries. The uniform acts promulgated by OHADA are exclusively business-related and it has created a supranational court to ensure uniformity and consistent legal interpretations across the member countries.

The DRC’s adhesion to OHADA will render nine “Uniform Acts” regulating some aspects of business law (inter alia commercial law, company law, securities interests, accounting) “directly applicable and binding” in the DRC. As a last resort, disputes concerning the application or the interpretation of the Uniform Acts will be submitted to the Common Court of Justice and Arbitration in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), thus providing an appeal level in last resort with this Court instead of DRC’s supreme court. Concerning mines, Article 3 of the Uniform Act relating to general commercial law includes the exploitation of mines as a commercial act, thus rendering commercial courts competent for commercial disputes relating to mining.

Analysts believe that the adhesion of the DRC will open the way for adhesion by neighboring countries such as Angola and countries in the Great Lakes Region.