Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 29, 2013

Assessing the Organisation pour l’harmonisation en Afrique du droit des affaires’s Contributions to Poverty Reduction in Africa: A Grounded Outlook

Isabelle Deschamps

Abstract

This article inquires into the Organisation pour l’harmonisation du droit des affaires en Afrique (OHADA)’s claims to innovation for its law reform processes and into its ambition to become a precedent for pursuing legal integration among countries elsewhere in Africa and in the world. It seeks to assess whether the OHADA regime effectively contributes to, or has the potential to contribute to, socio-economic development in member states. In making this assessment, the article revisits assumptions about the part that international and Western inspired law should play in development, institutional renovation and law reform in OHADA countries. The article argues that a shift of paradigms should occur in OHADA and international economic law from the foreign investor credo towards a more nuanced empirically informed approach to law making. Legal, policy and economic experts should concentrate more efforts on the needs, practices and realities of businesses in OHADA states, particularly local enterprises the majority of which are micro, small and medium (MSM) and are regulated by both formal and unofficial rules. Focusing on facilitating the operation of local businesses as well as on poverty reduction rather than on making regional economic integration, the dominant goal of business law reform in the OHADA can lead to commercial rules and strategies more successful at fostering sustainable development in member parties.

Bearing this in mind, the article analyses some of the innovations ascribed to the OHADA regime with a view to investigating whether they actually contribute usefully to the operation of businesses and more generally to socio-economic development in member states. The attributes examined concern both the form and the substance of the new law. Part A looks at the alleged increased physical accessibility and logical ordering of member states’ business law rules. In order to better appreciate the impact of this claimed novelty, Part B focuses on the OHADA Acts themselves and analyses three of their fundamental characteristics, namely their supranational, transplanted and viral-like nature, the latter two qualifiers being used metaphorically. The article shows that while OHADA-promoted rules and concepts are innovative in a number of respects, their supranational, transplanted and viral qualities have either little, none or adverse effects on the operation of local MSM businesses in the OHADA region.

Some commentators contend that the adverse effects and poor effectiveness of laws can be linked to a system’s legal origins. In particular, law and economics scholars and other academics have asserted that common law is a superior normative framework to civil law for law reform aimed at promoting economic development and the “rule of law”. Part C considers this claim and argues that the debate is beside the point since it presupposes a hermetic conception of legal traditions, conceives development as being primarily dependent on foreign investment and does not rest on solid empirical data from OHADA states.

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  1. 1

    La délicate évolution du franc CFA”, Jeune Afrique, 13 January 2009, available at: <www.jeuneafrique.com>.

  2. 2

    Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, République Centrafricaine, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

  3. 3

    Traité relatif à l’harmonisation du droit des affaires, 17 October 1993, 4 JO OHADA 1 (1 November 1997), available at: <http://www.ohada.org>, 16 ratifications on 3 April 2001 [“OHADA 1993 Treaty”] as amended by Traité portant révision du traité relatif à l’harmonisation du droit des affaires en Afrique, 17 October 2008, available at: <http://www.ohada.org> [“OHADA 2008 Treaty”], jointly, “OHADA Treaty”, preamble and s1.

  4. 4

    UNIDROIT, Préparation par UNIDROIT d’un projet d’Acte Uniforme sur le droit des contrats, available at: <www.unidroit.org/french/legalcooperation/ohada.htm>, accessed 9 June 2013; and M. Fontaine, L’avant-projet d’Acte uniforme OHADA sur le droit des contrats. Quelques réflexions sur le contexte actuel, lecture given at the Club OHADA Canada forum on L’arbitre, l’avocat et les entreprises face au droit des affaires de l’OHADA (Montreal, 23 March 2012) [Forum OHADA]; The World Bank, Project – Improved Investment Climate within the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA), 26 June 2012, available at: <www.worldbank.org> (for details of recent support granted by the Bank to the OHADA).

  5. 5

    “Rencontre entre le ministre chargé de la coopération, M. Henri de Rincourt, et le Secrétaire Permanent de l’OHADA, Me Dorothé Sossa (16 mars 2011)”, Ministère des Affaires Étrangère et Européennes-France (16 March 2011), available at: <www.diplomatie.gouv.fr> (for a recent example of France’s support to the OHADA).

  6. 6

    The MSM businesses this article is concerned with include single person businesses to 200 employee ones.

  7. 7

    D. Rodrik, The Global Governance of Trade as if Development Really Mattered (October 2001) United Nations Development Program, available at: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, available at: <www.wcfia.harvard.edu> (arguing that poverty reduction should be a policy development goal per se alongside growth and trade integration).

  8. 8

    Although related, the effectiveness and the effect of (new) laws should be distinguished. Effectiveness concerns the extent to which new laws achieve their reform goals (i.e. social change, increased investments, increased business incorporation), whereas the effects of laws concern all predictable and non-predictable actual outcomes: P. Ewick, “Penetration of Law”, in D.S.C. (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Law and Society: American and Global Perspectives (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2007), p. 1102.

  9. 9

    R. La Porta, F. Lopez-de-Silanes and A. Schleifer, The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins, 46 Journal of Economic Literature, no. 2 (2008), 285.

  10. 10

    S.F. Joireman, Inherited Legal Systems and Effective Rule of Law: Africa and the Colonial Legacy, 30 The Journal of Modern African Studies, no. 4 (2001), 571.

  11. 11

    Interviews were conducted in Benin (Cotonou, Porto-Novo, Glo Yekon) from 19 June to 5 July 2011, 25 to 29 April, 21 to 28 May and 11 to 18 June 2012; in Cameroon (Douala, Yaoundé, Bangoua, Abonbang, Dschang, Maroua, Maga, Ngaounderé) from 5 to 20 July 2011 and 30 April to 20 May 2012; and in Côte d’Ivoire (Abidjan, Dabou, Debrimo) with 80 women entrepreneurs aged twenties to sixties, operating registered and non-registered local MSMs, mostly in retail and/or wholesale sector; 5 businessmen (aged twenties and forties, operating small local non-registered businesses and large local businesses; in retail sale and information technology); 6 lawyers practicing OHADA law; 12 agents from the OHADA institutions (training and research centre; Permanent Secretariat; and regional court); 3 clerks working for national company registries (RCCM); 2 employees of microcredit institutions; 1 journalist; 1 accountant.

  12. 12

    Interviews with: Me Pierre Boubou, July 2011, Douala, Cameroon; Me Kele Kone, May 2012, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire; Me Theodore Bomiso, May 2012, Abidjan Côte d’Ivoire; Comments of speakers at Forum OHADA, supra note 4; J. Kamga, L’apport du droit de l’OHADA à l’attractivité des investissements étrangers dans les États Parties, 5 La Revue des Juristes de Sciences Po (2012), 43, at 45.

  13. 13

    For example, before 1997, privileges created during colonisation were scattered and disorderly listed in OHADA states’ formal laws. The Acte uniforme portant organisation des sûretés, 17 April 1997, 3 JO OHADA 1 (1 October 1997), available at: <http://www.ohada.com> [1997 Act on Secured Transactions] attempted to order them, limit their scope, remove out-dated ones and established publicity requirements: J. Issa-Sayegh et al., OHADA, Traité et actes uniformes commentés et annotés (3rd ed., Paris: JURISCOPE, 2008).

  14. 14

    Incidents occurred in courts whereby one lawyer pleaded a given statute only to be rebutted by his opponent basing himself on another law, which on its face was equally applicable to the facts of the case. It came to the judge to decide, more or less arbitrarily since no precise information was available, regarding which of the two texts was actually in force: Conversation with Me Alain Fénéon, attorney and arbitrator practising African commercial law, Montreal, 24 March 2012.

  15. 15

    C. Ayémonna, Femmes juges du Bénin: visages et contribution à l’évolution du droit given at the Association Internationale des Femmes Juges, Section béninoise (AIFJ-Bénin) (Cotonou, 28 June 2006), 15 Journal Officiel 659, 659 (judge presiding the Beninese Constitutional Court from 1998 to 2008 and decrying corruption amongst the Beninese judiciary).

  16. 16

    1993 OHADA Treaty and 2008 OHADA Treaty.

  17. 17

    See: R.A. Macdonald, Three Metaphors of Norm Migration in International Context, 34 Brooklyn Journal of International Law (2009), 603 (analysing the meaning, “use and abuse” of the metaphor of harmonisation and highlighting “the rhetoric that underlies appeals to harmonisation in international commercial law reform: unification is bad; harmonisation is good.” This may explain in part the reference to “harmonisation” as opposed to “unification” in the OHADA’s name and stated objectives); M. Boodman, The Myth of Harmonization of Laws, 39 American Journal Comparative Law, no. 4 (1991), 699 (discussing the concepts of harmonisation and legal harmonisation, the effects and of the suitability of using such a legal reform technique in given circumstances).

  18. 18

    Issa-Sayegh (2008), supra note 13.

  19. 19

    The “code vert” was not initiated nor is funded by the OHADA or its member states but by two private French Associations: UNIDA (a private grouping of businesses operating in Africa and other actors) and Juriscope (a public/private grouping of French law professors and other actors).

  20. 20

    Section 10 reads: “les Actes Uniformes sont directement applicables et obligatoires dans les États parties, nonobstant toute disposition contraire de droit interne, antérieure ou postérieure”.

  21. 21

    s 336 of the Acte uniforme portant organisation des procédures simplifiées de recouvrement et des voies d’exécution, 6 JO OHADA 1, 1 June 1998, available at: <www.ohada.org>; 396 of the Acte uniforme relatif au droit des sociétés coopératives, 15 December 2010 (entered into force on 16 May 2011), 23 JO OHADA 1, available at: <www.ohada.org>; 919 of Acte uniforme relatif au droit des sociétés commerciales et du groupement d’intérêt économique, 17 April 1997, 2 JO OHADA 1, available at: <www.ohada.com>; 257 of the Acte uniforme portant organisation des procédures collective d’apurement du passif, 1 July 1998, 7 JO OHADA 1, available at: <www.ohada.com>; 112 of the Acte uniforme portant organisation et harmonisation des comptabilité d’entreprises, 10 JO OHADA 1, available at: <www.ohada.org>; 35 of the Acte uniforme relatif au droit de l’arbitrage, 11 March 1999, 8 JO OHADA 1, available at: <www.ohada.com>; 4 of the Acte uniforme portant organisation des sûretés, 15 December 2010 (entered into force on 16 May 2011), 22 JO OHADA 1, available at: <www.ohada.org> [“2010 Act on Secured Transactions”] Section 227 provides for non-retroactivity of the Act (s 150 of the 1997 Act on Secured Transactions repeals all prior national rules that are contrary to the 1997 Act); and 1 of the Acte uniforme relatif au droit commercial général, 15 December 2010 (entered into force on 16 May 2011), 23 JO OHADA at 1 (available at: <www.ohada.com>) [“2010 Act on General Commercial Law].

  22. 22

    Ohada Treaty, s14.

  23. 23

    Private independent OHADA clubs generally aimed at promoting the regime have also been multiplying in and outside Africa (including two in Canada) over the past decade to whom the OHADA provides limited documentary support: Exchange with Karel Dogué, president of Club OHADA Canada, 16 March 2012.

  24. 24

    Opinion no.1/2001/EP (Demande d’avis de la République de Côte d’Ivoire enregistrée au greffe sous le no. 002/2000/EP du 19 octobre 2000), 30 April 2011, Recueil de jurisprudence CCJA, No. Spécial, January 2003, 74.

  25. 25

    Ibid. See also: La Société Elf-oil Côte d’Ivoire devenue Total FINAELF v La Société COTRACOM, Case no. 012/2002, 18 April 2002, Recueil de jurisprudence CCJA, N° spécial, 53 (on the combined application of s10 of the OHADA Treaty and ss 336 and 337 of the Acte uniforme portant organisation des procédures simplifiées de recouvrement et des voies d’exécution, which results in a wide-ranging abrogation of incompatible national laws relating to this topic).

  26. 26

    See <www.ohada.org> (OHADA’s official website, which reproduces some of the Acts and contains a documentary section still under construction). See also: <www.ohada.com> (UNIDA’s comprehensive OHADA law web database).

  27. 27

    2010 Act on General Commercial Law, ss 79-81; P. Crocq, Les grandes orientations du projet de réforme de l’Acte uniforme portant organisation des sûretés 197 Droit et patrimoine (2010) 52 and L.Y. Black, L’enjeu économique de la réforme de l’Acte uniforme OHADA portant organisation des sûretés: un atout pour faciliter l’accès au crédit (2007) 197 Droit et patrimoine 46, at 50-51 (describing the difficulties of national commercial registry systems in OHADA states prior to the 2010 Act on General Commercial Law and the measures envisaged by the Act to palliate to them including the computerisation of the regime).

  28. 28

    M.S. Tumnde, borne Njikam, “OHADA as Experienced in Cameroon: Addressing Areas of Particular Concern to Common Law Jurists”, in C.M. Dickerson (ed.), Unified Business Laws for Africa – Common Law Perspectives on OHADA (2nd ed., London: IEDP, 2012), pp. 90-91 (for an account of the various deficiencies of the commercial registry system in Cameroon).

  29. 29

    See note 32.

  30. 30

    Similarly, speakers (professors, students, members of the OHADA Permanent Secretariat, lawyers, etc) at the Forum OHADA, supra note 4, painted a promising picture of the OHADA while little attention was paid to its failures.

  31. 31

    P. Diédhiou, L’article 10 du Traité OHADA: quelle portée abrogatoire et supranationale? 2 Revue de droit uniforme (UNIDROIT), (2007), 265, at 276-283 (being critical of the CCJA’s extensive interpretation of s10); contra: J. Issa-Sayegh, La portée abrogatoire des Actes Uniformes sur le droit interne des parties, 39-40 Revue burkinabè de droit (2001), 51, at 60-62; Réflexions et suggestions sur la mise en conformité du droit interne des Etats parties avec les Actes uniformes de l’OHADA et réciproquement, 850 Penant, (2005) 6 (approving the CCJA’s interpretation of s 10).

  32. 32

    Observations and informal discussions with law students and jurists in Cotonou (Benin), May/June 2010.

  33. 33

    Tumnde (2012), supra note 28, at 83 (on constitutional issues surrounding the applicability of the OHADA law in Cameroon); Diédhiou (2007), supra note 31, at 271.

  34. 34

    For example, draft Acts on intellectual property law and on general contract law were commissioned but the adoption process was interrupted for a number of reasons including national courts’ fear of losing jurisdiction to the benefit of the CCJA. For other reasons for which the draft Act on contracts was shelved, see Part C.

  35. 35

    Incompatibility may concern either the spirit or the letter of the law, or both. It can concern selected provisions only or whole laws. This makes findings of incompatibility often requiring to be litigated. For example, see: Société ivoirienne d’emballage métallique dite SIEM v Sté ATOU et Banque ivoirienne pour le commerce et l’industrie de la Côte d’Ivoire dite BICICI Recueil de jurisprudence CCJA, No. Spécial January 2003, 39 (no incompatibility between OHADA law and an Ivoirian procedural provision.)

  36. 36

    Central Intelligence Agency, World Fact Book, available at: <www.cia.gov>, accessed on 9 June 2013.

  37. 37

    For example, see: OHADA Secrétariat Permanent, “Conditions d’admission et de séjour pour la formation à l’ERSUMA” (1 July 2010), available at: <http://www.ohada.org/formation.html> (indicating that that a 5-day training course costs FCFA 350,000 (EUR 534). Expensive trainings are also organised by private firms and legal professionals).

  38. 38

    Interview with Me Johnson, RCCM clerk, Ngaoundéré, Cameroon, May 2012 (noting the lack of continuing legal education in his region on OHADA law and indicating he was not aware of the enactment of the 2010 Acts on General Commercial Law and on Secured Transactions). The International Trade Center “ACCESS II program for African businesswomen in international trade” is one of the few examples of commercial law trainings provided in remote areas of OHADA states: ITC <www.intracen.org>; Interview with Me Pierre Boubou, Douala, Cameroon (July 2011, May 2012); Interview with Me Clarisse Motsebo, Yaoundé, Cameroon (May 2012).

  39. 39

    In Sub-Saharan Africa, 84% of women in the non-agricultural sector are informally employed compared to 63% for men: United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), Progress of the World’s Women 2005: Women, Work and Poverty, (2005), available at: <www.unifem.org>, at 39.

  40. 40

    Data from 2010 estimate the level of female literacy (e.g. women aged 15 and over able to read and write) to 30.3% in Benin, 46.6% in Côte d’Ivoire and in Cameroon data from 2001 estimate this to 67.8%: Central Intelligence Agency, World Fact Book – Benin – Cameroon – Côte d’Ivoire, available at: <www.cia.gov>, accessed on 9 June 2013.

  41. 41

    “Coupure de l’internet au Bénin: de graves conséquences pour l’économie nationale”, La Nouvelle Tribune (16 January 2012), available at: <http://www.lanouvelletribune.info>.

  42. 42

    Macdonald (2009), supra note 17 (analysing the metaphors of the transplant and of viral propagation in international law reform initiatives).

  43. 43

    OHADA Treaty, s 6.

  44. 44

    The CCJA must also provide its opinion on the final draft of Acts: OHADA Treaty, s7.

  45. 45

    OHADA Treaty, s6; C.M. Dickerson, “Perspectives on the Future”, in C.M. Dickerson (ed.), Unified Business Laws for Africa – Common Law Perspectives on OHADA (2nd ed., London: IEDP, 2012), at 111.

  46. 46

    Decisions of the CCJA are also supranational and national courts must submit to them: OHADA Treaty, ss 14 and 20.

  47. 47

    Tumnde (2012), supra note 28, at 86-87 (on legislative, judicial and institutional supranationalism in the OHADA and the difficulties this entails including that it may contribute to making national courts and parliaments “moribund”).

  48. 48

    C.M. Dickerson, The Future of International Law and Development: Flying under the Radar, 35 North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation, no. 3 (2010), 563, at 563-564 (claiming that the OHADA responds to corruption and undue influence problems of member states by “flying under the radar”, that is, by creating a supranational system that by-passes national structures); Harmonizing Business Laws in Africa: OHADA Calls the Tune, 44 Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, no. 1 (2005), 17, at 57 (discussing how the supranational OHADA judicial structure makes it independent from “authoritarian and extractive national institutions”), and at 55 (discussing more publicised possible motivations of heads of states for adopting the supranational structure).

  49. 49

    See also: D. Acemoglu, S. Johnson and J.A Robinson, The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation, 91 The American Economic Review, no. 5 (2001), 1369 (arguing that most African colonies were structured and governed according to an “extractive” as opposed to “settler” logic, which persisted after independence).

  50. 50

    For example, Code de commerce de 1807 (applicable overseas by the 7 December 1850 Law and decrees adopted between 1850 and 1870); Loi du 24 juillet 1867 sur les sociétés anonymes et en commandites par actions (applicable in Africa by a 30 December 1868 decree); Loi du 7 mars 1925 sur les sociétés à responsabilité limitée (applicable overseas by virtue of s 43).

  51. 51

    Joireman (2001), supra note 10, at 580-581. The situation was similar in Belgian Congo: Acemoglu (2001), supra note 49, at 1375-1376. Indigenous business rules continued to develop during colonisation but in a more covert manner: I. Deschamps, “Commercial Law Reform in Africa: A Means of Socio-Economic Development, But for Whom? Perspective of Women Entrepreneurs in Benin” LLM Thesis, 2011 [unpublished], at 34-35. The situation in British colonies was slightly different due to indirect rule, which made it easier for indigenous and foreign rules to cohabitate.

  52. 52

    Supranational law is not novel outside of Africa either. This characterised canon law during the Middle Ages in Europe, American states’ laws prior to the confederation and multiple laws governing the European Union: J.W. Head, Supranational Law: How the Move Toward Multilateral Solutions Is Changing the Character of “International” Law, 42 University of Kansas Law Review (1994), 605, at 622-623.

  53. 53

    Macdonald (2009), supra note 17, at 636.

  54. 54

    OHADA Treaty, s 2.

  55. 55

    Work on an Act on labour law was initiated in the past years and is still under way. The strong local nature of labour law renders consensus on a final draft difficult to attain: A. Blackett, Beyond Standard Setting: A Study of ILO Technical Cooperation on Regional Labor Law Reform in West and Central Africa, 32 Comparative Labor Law Policy Journal, no. 2 (2011), 443.

  56. 56

    A preliminary draft Act on consumer contracts was prepared in 2005 but has not been adopted at the time of writing: T.M. Bourgoignie and C. Masse, Projet de loi uniforme sur le contrat de consommation pour les pays de l’OHADA, Report submitted to the Federal Ministry of Justice (Ottawa, 2005).

  57. 57

    UNIDROIT, supra note 4. See also note 40 and Part C.

  58. 58

    Examples of OHADA rules creating penal offenses include: ss 1 & 243 of the Acte uniforme portant organisation des procédures collectives d’apurement du passif; Part 3 of the Acte uniforme relatif au droit des sociétés commerciales et du groupement d’intérêt économique; Part 3 of the Acte uniforme relatif au droit des sociétés coopératives; ss 69 & 140 of the 2010 Act on General Commercial Law.

  59. 59

    2010 Act on Secured Transactions, ss 198-199.

  60. 60

    Code des personnes et de la de la République du Bénin – Loi no. 2002–07, 14 June 2004, available at: Yale Law School <http://www.law.yale.edu/rcw/rcw/jurisdictions/afw/benin/benin_family_code.htm>, ss 14, 15, 74, 123, 131.

  61. 61

    D.J Falen, Polygyny and Christian Marriage in Africa: The Case of Benin, 51 African Studies Review, no. 2 (2008), 51, at 61 (Noting that in modern-day Benin polygynous men “often try to avoid cowife jealousy by housing wives in different places, sometimes in different towns.”)

  62. 62

    Central Intelligence Agency, World Fact Book – Democratic Republic of Congo, available at: <www.cia.gov>, accessed on 9 June 2013 (July 2012 estimate). DRC’s adhesion to the OHADA was completed in September 2012: Ohada.com, “12 septembre 2012: Un grand jour pour la RDCONGO/Un grand jour pour l’OHADA/Un grand jour pour l’Afrique”, 12 September 2012, available at: <www.ohada.com>. The other two countries that joined the OHADA since 1993 are Guinea Bissau (1996) and Guinea Conakry (2000).

  63. 63

    Ohada.com, “OHADA.com vous informe: Setting up of the Foundation for a Unified Business Law in Africa/New York, USA/December 1, 2010”, 2 December 2010, available at: <www.ohada.com>. The question, however, of the compatibility between the common law inherited system of Anglophone African countries and the largely civil law inspired OHADA Acts remains controversial: see Part C.

  64. 64

    Thirty-six Caribbean States are part of the OHADAC project, some having inherited French or Spanish civil law inherited system, others British or American common law systems: Organisation for Harmonization of Business Law in the Caribbean, Brochure, October 2011, available at: <http://www.ohadac.com/ohadac-brochure.html>; “OHADA.com vous informe: Réforme OHADAC: prochaines étapes” 31 May 2011, available at: <www.ohada.com>. See also: <http://ohadac.com/ohadac-and-acp-legal.html> and Ohada.com Newsletter, “F.U.B.L.A participation to a Presentation on OHADA and OHADA law organized by The Benin Embassy in the United States and the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) on September 26, 2011, Washington, DC, USA.” 14 October 2011, available at: <www.ohada.com> (for explicit references to OHADA as a model for OHADAC).

  65. 65

    For example, by killing harmful bacteria, parasites or other more dangerous viruses: “A Few Good Viruses”, Cosmos Online (7 February 2007), available at: <www.cosmosmagazine.com/node/1024>.

  66. 66

    A. Ngwanza, La tradition juridique en droit OHADA given at Forum OHADA, supra note 4.

  67. 67

    M. Stephens, The Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor: An Opportunity missed, 1 Hague Journal on the Rule of Law (2009), 132, at 134 (claiming that private sector development projects in poor countries still too often continue to be shaped by the interests of the wealthy, the “political elite and the well-connected who dominate the formation of (…) [formal] legal norms and the institutions that regulate them”).

  68. 68

    One example of a normative initiative seeking to integrate human rights concerns in the operation of businesses around the world is the Ruggie Rules: J.H. Knox, The Ruggie Rules: Applying Human Rights Law to Corporations, draft (16 August 2011), available at: <http://ssrn.com>.

  69. 69

    I. Deschamps, “Using Local Legal Cultures to Evaluate the OHADA Regime as a Precedent for Business Law Integration in the SADC”, draft submitted for publication at the SADC Law Journal (22 April 2013) [on file with author].

  70. 70

    Blackett (2011), supra note 55 (arguing that the OHADA should refrain from further pursuing work on an Act regulating labour relations because of its lack of expertise in this area).

  71. 71

    Macdonald (2009), supra note 17 (discussing the implications of “transplantation”, “harmonisation” as a legal metaphors in international law reform). Contra: H.P. Glenn, On the Use of Biological Metaphors in Law: The Case of Legal Transplants, 1 The Journal of Comparative Law (2006), 358 (critical of the transplant metaphor).

  72. 72

    J.M. Miller, “Transplants, Legal Exports as”, in David Scott Clark (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Law and Society: American and Global Perspectives (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2007), p. 1512.

  73. 73

    J. Miller, A Typology of Legal Transplants: Using Sociology, Legal History, and Argentine Examples to Explain the Transplant Process, 51 American Journal of Comparative Law (2003), 839.

  74. 74

    Crocq (2010), supra note 33, at 52.

  75. 75

    22 March 2003 (entered into force on 1 January 2004), available at: <www.ohada.com>.

  76. 76

    Canadian (Quebec) professor Nicole Lacasse was the chief expert mandated by Justice Canada to draft the preliminary version of the Act. She was assisted by then-student Serge Kaplan of Ivoirian origin.

  77. 77

    N. Lacasse and S. Kablan, Retour sur l’expertise québécoise et canadienne dans l’AUCTMR, given at Forum OHADA, supra note 4. Quebec experts also worked on the preliminary draft of an Act on consumer contracts, which draws substantially from the consumer protection laws of the Province of Québec: Bourgoignie, supra note 56.

  78. 78

    For examples and discussion of specific legal transplants in OHADA Acts see: Black (2007), supra note 27, at 50; R.A. Macdonald and I. Deschamps, “Planimétrie et topographie en droit des sûretés”, in M. Béhar-Touchais, N. Martial-Braz and J.-F. Riffard (eds.), Les mutations de la norme: Le renouvellement des sources du droit (Paris: Economica, 2011); Deschamps (2013), supra note 69; Deschamps (2011), supra note 51.

  79. 79

    A. Watson, Aspects of Reception of Law, 44 American Journal of Comparative Law (1996), 335, 335.

  80. 80

    Macdonald (2009), supra note 17, at 631.

  81. 81

    For example, judge Keba Mbaye, one of the “pères fondateurs” of the OHADA. Also, during the Forum OHADA, supra note 4, the OHADA Secretary General, the Director General of the ERSUMA, his consultant and the drafters of the draft Acts on the transport of goods by road and on general contracts highlighted the attachment of jurists in OHADA member states to the civil law tradition. This attachment results in their hesitating to support the incorporation of other foreign legal influences in OHADA laws. See also: Miller (2003), supra note 73 (discussing how prestige of the legal transplant influences its application); D. Berkowitz, K. Pistor and J.-F. Richard, The Transplant Effect, 51 American Journal of Comparative Law (2003), 163 (arguing that the extent to which people respect the (official) law in the host state influences reception of the transplant).

  82. 82

    France Diplomatie, supra note 5; A. Mouloul, Comprendre l’Organisation pour l’harmonisation en Afrique du droit des affaires (O.H.A.D.A.) (2nd ed., December 2008), available at: <http://www.ohada.com>. See also: Y. Dezalay and B.G. Garth, The Internationalization of Palace Wars: Lawyers, Economists and the Contest to Transform Latin American States (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002) (discussing the relation between the law exporter’s capital for funding the reform and the importer’s willingness to adopt it).

  83. 83

    Deschamps (2011), supra note 51, at 74. See: Watson (1996), supra note 79 (for four other possible reasons for which lawmakers borrow foreign legal concepts: practical utility, chance, difficulty of clear sight and the need for authority); Miller (2003), supra note 73 (for further exploration of the motivations underpinning the use of transplants through a typological analysis of (i) the Cost-Saving Transplant; (ii) the Externally Dictated Transplant; (iii) the Entrepreneurial Transplant; and iv) the Legitimacy-Generating Transplant).

  84. 84

    Macdonald (2009), supra note 17, at 631.

  85. 85

    Interview with Dorothé Sossa, OHADA Permanent Secretary, Yaoundé, Cameroon, July 2011. The need to integrate more elements of indigenous legal traditions in OHADA law is not unanimously recognised by the African legal community both inside and outside Africa. For example, during the Forum OHADA, supra note 4, Burkinabe law professor Sibidi Emmanuel Darankoum saluted the fact that the talk given at the Forum on the OHADA legal tradition focused not on local African customs and traditions but on the civilian characteristics of the rules and their global sources. The intensity with which some African jurists seem protective of the civil legal tradition appears matched only by the intensity of their disregard for indigenous modes and legal cultures, some of which predate colonisation. This disregard seems somewhat paradoxical in light of the fact that the commercial usages and business practices of many enterprises operating in OHADA states, in particular MSMs, are rooted in local, traditional and/or religious legal cultures more than they are in Western ones.

  86. 86

    Black (2007), supra note 27, at 49.

  87. 87

    Book I, Title II; Book III, Title III.

  88. 88

    H. De Soto, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else (New York: Basic Books, 2000); A. Ghani, Economic Development, Poverty Reduction, and the Rule of Law – Lessons from East Asia: Successes and Failures, Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, 2006; UNDP, Commission for Legal Empowerment of the Poor, available at: <www.undp.org> (making recommendations for strengthening formal business, property and land rights regimes in line with the De Soto thesis).

  89. 89

    Central Intelligence Agency, World Fact BookCameroon (2009 Estimate), available at: <www.cia.gov>, accessed 9 June 2013.

  90. 90

    Interview with Jean Okono, head clerk RCCM, Yaoundé, Cameroon, May 2012; Interview with Me Johnson, head clerk RCCM, Ngaoundéré, Cameroon, May 2012 (indicating not even being aware of the existence of this new category of “entreprenants” who could register at his registry.

  91. 91

    The average percentage of Sub-Saharan states’ informal economy as measured against “official” gross domestic product is 38.4% and the size of informal non-agricultural employment represents 72% of all non-agricultural employment: A. Buehn, F. Schneider, C.E. Montenegro, Shadow Economies All over the World – New Estimates for 162 Countries from 1999 to 2007, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 5356 (July 2010), available at: <http://elibrary.worldbank.org/>; UNIFEM (2005), supra note 39.

  92. 92

    Interview with Angèle (pseudonym), May 2012, Cotonou, Bénin.

  93. 93

    This applies to Africa as it does elsewhere in the world. For example, Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code is predominantly the product of and reflects the views of the American Law Institute, which regroups a certain legal elite in the United States. For details on the Article 9 Review process, see: <http://www.ali.org>. I am grateful to Prof. Catherine Walsh for sharing her views on this point.

  94. 94

    Tumnde (2012), supra note 28, at 59-60 and 110-126 (on the development, workings and contributions of national commissions); Interview with Clarisse Motsebo, legal researcher, OHADA Permanent Secretariat, Yaoundé, June 2012 (indicating that few OHADA states have functioning national commissions (for example, Cameroon and Benin). Most often, commissions are composed only one or two jurists).

  95. 95

    Miller (2003), supra note 73.

  96. 96

    See note 83.

  97. 97

    See note 5.

  98. 98

    For example, the World Bank funded the revision of the 1997 Acts on General Commercial Law and on Secured Transactions.

  99. 99

    Miller (2003), supra note 73, at 1516.

  100. 100

    Observations made at the ERSUMA, Porto-Novo, Benin, June 2011.

  101. 101

    R. Lippens, “Symbols in Law”, in D. Scott Clark (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Law and Society: American and Global Perspectives (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2007), p. 1450 (legal transplants carry new legal symbols into the state or community where they are implemented. These symbols can be found in the text of the new rules (expressions, terms, etc.), in the new procedures enacted (lawyer and judge dress codes, etc.) and in new institutions created).

  102. 102

    R.A. Macdonald, Article 9 Norm Entrepreneurship, 43 Canadian Business Law Journal (2006), 240, at 241-242, 256, 266-271.

  103. 103

    International Trade Center, supra note 38.

  104. 104

    Deschamps (2011), supra note 51, at 30-33.

  105. 105

    European legal traditions were transmitted as follows among OHADA states: Benin (FR), Burkina Faso (FR), Cameroun (FR, GR, BR), Comoros (FR – note that they are the Indian Ocean), Côte d’Ivoire (FR), the Central African Republic, Congo Republic (FR), Gabon (FR), Equatorial Guinea (FR et SP), Mali (FR), Niger (FR), Senegal (FR), Chad (FR) and Togo (GR, FR), Guinea-Bissau (POR), Guinea-Conakry (FR) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (BG). (Legend: FR: French; BR: British; GR: German; BG: Belgian; POR: Portuguese; SP: Spain.).

  106. 106

    For example, the Organisation for African Unity (now the African Union) created in 1963 and the African Development Bank in 1964.

  107. 107

    Joireman (2001), supra note 10, at 576-577.

  108. 108

    Other shared characteristics included common borders and French as an official language.

  109. 109

    France’s initial contribution to the project included FCFA 2,000,000,000 disbursed in 1998 and a pledge of FCFA 2,000,000,000: Mouloul (2008), supra note 82.

  110. 110

    For example, the 1997 Act on General Commercial law was drafted by French lawyer and arbitrator Alain Fénéon (Conversation with Me Alain Fénéon, supra note 14); the 2010 Act on Secured Transactions was drafted by a team of mostly French and French trained jurists amongst whom law professors Pierre Crocq and Jean-François Riffard (Conversation with Prof. Pierre Crocq, Paris, France, May 2010; Conversation with Prof. Jean-François Riffard, Montreal, March 2010).

  111. 111

    Conversation with Me Alain Fénéon, supra note 14; Comments of Kalidou Gadio, General Counsel, African Development Bank, International Economic Law African Regional Conference, Johannesburg, May 2011. UNIDROIT is also said to have had little faith in the OHADA in its early years.

  112. 112

    La Porta (2008), supra note 9; Joireman (2001), supra note 10; S. Djankov et al., The Regulation of Entry, CXVII Quarterly Journal of Economics no. 1 (2002), 1 (calculating business start-up times, costs and requirements in 85 countries world-wide and concluding that heavier regulation correlates with heavier corruption, larger “informal” economies and greater benefit for politicians and bureaucrats while not increasing the quality of private and public goods. Authors also claim that civil law states except for Scandinavian ones (e.g. those of French, German and Socialist legal origin) have more regulation than states of English law tradition).

  113. 113

    R. La Porta et al., Law and Finance, 106 Journal of Political Economy, no. 6 (1998), 1113, at 1130-1131.

  114. 114

    La Porta (2008), supra note 9, at 285-286.

  115. 115

    Djankov (2002), supra note 112.

  116. 116

    Ibid; La Porta (2008), supra note 9, at 286; Joireman (2001), supra note 10, at 590-592.

  117. 117

    S. Djankov et al., Courts, 118 Quarterly Journal of Economics, no. 2 (2003), 453; R. La Porta et al., Judicial Checks and Balances, 112 Journal of Political Economy, no. 2 (2004), 445; La Porta (2008), supra note 9, at 286.

  118. 118

    Joireman, supra note 10.

  119. 119

    (Washington, DC: World Bank and Oxford University Press, 2004).

  120. 120

    UNIDROIT, supra note 4.

  121. 121

    Professor Marcel Fontaine, Faculté de droit de l’Université catholique de Louvain (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgique).

  122. 122

    The UNIDROIT principles reflect a negotiated compromise between common law and civil law. See: UNIDROIT, supra note 4 (for a description of the mandate given to UNIDROIT by the OHADA and of work carried out. Three drafts Acts on contracts were prepared by UNIDROIT). Initially the mandate given by the OHADA indicated the need to integrate principles from all of private international law, common law and Roman-Germanic law. However, as a result of pressures and requests by local jurists protective of their civil law tradition, the first version of the draft Act was revised so as to incorporate more French civil law concepts. A third draft of the Act was requested, with still stronger grounding in French civil law but was also considered to integrate too many common law influenced rules. Given OHADA states’ attachment to their French inherited Civil Code rules on contracts and the controversy around the legal origins thesis embraced by the World Bank Doing Business Report 2004, the adoption process was put on indefinite hold: Fontaine & Comments of Dorothé Sossa, OHADA Permanent Secretary, Forum OHADA, supra note 4.

  123. 123

    B. Fauvarque-Cosson and A.J. Kerhuel, Is Law an Economic Contest? French Reactions to the Doing Business World Bank Reports and Economic Analysis of the Law, 57 American Journal Comparative Law (2009), 811, at 812-824 (analyzing French reactions and criticism of the legal origins theory and methodology including with regard to the Doing Business Reports); C.J. Milhaupt, Beyond Legal Origin: Rethinking Law’s Relationship to the Economy – Implications for Policy, 57 American Journal Comparative Law (2009), 831 (criticizing the “static” approach of the law and economics/legal origins thesis); Acemoglu (2001), supra note 49 (arguing that the environment of African colonies rather than the identity of the colonizing power or legal system influenced the type of institutions set up by Europeans. In environments that led to high mortality rates, Europeans set up more extractive institutions. These institutions impacted the development of the colonies to this day).

  124. 124

    Ibid.

  125. 125

    Djankov (2003), supra note 117 (of the 109 countries examined, only two are OHADA States: Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire); La Porta (1998), supra note 113 (of forty-nine countries assessed, none were OHADA States – authors chose to restrict their investigation to states where firms were trading publicly since without shareholder information, they claim their discussion on investor rights would be less meaningful); Djankov (2002), supra note 112 (of 85 countries examined for assessing the impact of start-up regulation, only 3 are OHADA states: Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso); R. La Porta et al., Judicial Checks and Balances, 112 Journal of Political Economy, no. 2 (2004), 445; La Porta (2008), supra note 9, at 286.

  126. 126

    (Washington, DC: IFC and the World Bank, 2012).

  127. 127

    For example, Djankov (2002), supra note 112, looks at official times and official costs.

  128. 128

    Informal discussion with the owner of Bénin Marché, Cotonou, Benin, June 2010, who said she often has to make gifts to civil servants to speed-up start-up procedures.

  129. 129

    Dickerson (2010), supra note 48, at 564. The scope of the definition of “business law” in the OHADA Treaty does not exclude the possibility that OHADA law regulate aspects of dealing with construction permits, cross-border trade and taxes.

  130. 130

    World Bank & International Finance Corporation, Doing Business 2011-OHADA, Making a Difference for Entrepreneurs (Washington, DC: World Bank/IFC, 2011), 15.

  131. 131

    See also: Dickerson (2010), supra note 48, at 564-565 (discussing the 2009 Doing Business report and highlighting that the Bank nuanced its “civil law counters development” position between 2004 and 2009).

  132. 132

    La Porta (2008), supra note 9.

  133. 133

    V.V. Palmer, Québec and Her Sisters in the Third Legal Family, 54 McGill Law Journal (2009), 321 (describing a third mixed common law/civil law tradition in the province of Quebec, Canada).

  134. 134

    E.W. Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage, 1979).

  135. 135

    At 105. The list also does not account for differences between the significantly distinct U.S. and U.K. regimes of commercial law (corporations, secured financing, corporate financing, securities regulation, etc.) For a good example of the significance of these distinctions see: G. McCormack, UNCITRAL, Security Rights and the Globalization of the US Article 9, 62 Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, no. 4 (2011), 485 and American Private Law Writ Large? The UNCITRAL Secured Transactions Guide (2011), 60 International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 597.

  136. 136

    Other examples concern rituals and chthonic beliefs that regulate the procedure for the sale of traditional medicine in South Africa. See also: D. Etounga-Manguelle, “Does Africa need a Cultural Adjustment Program?”, in L.E. Harrison and S.P. Huntington (eds.), Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000), pp. 65-77 (quoting ex Ivoirian prime minister Felix Houphouet-Boigny as stating that no matter what religious beliefs Africans have today – Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, etc. – they all have an animist past).

  137. 137

    By analogy, see: J. Comaroff and J. Comaroff, Policing Culture, Cultural Policing: Law and Social Order in Postcolonial South Africa, 29 Law & Social Inquiry, no. 3 (2004), 513, 534 & ss (discussing the complex relation between traditional beliefs and customs, the Rule of Law and formal Western inherited law in postcolonial Africa particularly regarding witchcraft regulation in South Africa).

  138. 138

    Deschamps (2011), supra note 51, at 30-33; R.F. Oppong, Private International Law Scholarship in Africa (1884–2009) – A Selected Bibliography, 58 American Journal Comparative Law (2010), 319.

  139. 139

    See: Deschamps (2011), supra note 51, at 15-30 (for a preliminary discussion on clinical legal pluralism) and I. Deschamps, Stimulating Sustainable Economic Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa with Legal Systems Enabling Women Entrepreneurs’ Creativity, Policy Brief No.6, McGill Institute for the Study of International Development/Canadian International Development Agency, 2012, available at: <www.mcgill.ca/isid/> (for CLP inspired proposed policy goals and strategy recommendations for attaining Canadian International Development Agency’s objective of contributing to sustainable economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa).

  140. 140

    M.-M. Kleinhans and R.A. Macdonald, What Is a Critical Legal Pluralism?, 12 Canadian Journal of Law and Society (1997), 25.

  141. 141

    M. Castells, Changer la ville: A Rejoinder, 30 International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, no. 1 (2006), 219.

  142. 142

    T.C. Gray, Freestanding Legal Pragmatism, 18 Cardozo Law Review (1997), 21.

  143. 143

    R. Jukier, Challenging the Existing Paradigm: How to Transnationalize the Legal Curriculum, 24 Pennsylvania State International Law Review (2005), 775. Jukier equates “trans” with “many” but our view is that “across” conveys the idea of the “trans” in transsystemia better. According to a transsystemic approach, it would not be enough for law reformers to understand different conceptions of law. They also need to appreciate how these different conceptions relate to each other with “the entire mindset of the tradition in question.”

  144. 144

    1993 OHADA Treaty, preamble; 2008 OHADA Treaty, preamble.

  145. 145

    Forum OHADA, supra note 4; K. Mbaye, “ntroduction”, in Issa-Sayegh (2008), supra note 13; Mouloul (2008), supra note 82; Kamga, supra note 12.

  146. 146

    R. Haselman, K. Pistor and V. Vig, How Law Affects Lending, 23 The Review of Financial Studies, no. 2 (2010), 549.

  147. 147

    Schneider (2010), supra note 91.

  148. 148

    See J.-F. Gaudreault-Desbiens, “Transformer les cultures juridiques?”, in Jean-François Gaudreault-Desbiens (ed.), Les solitudes au Canada- Essai sur les rapports de pouvoir entre les traditions juridiques et la résilience des atavismes identitaires (Montréal: Éditions Thémis, 2007), pp. 120-121 for proposals of methods for designing laws that best reflect diverse legal traditions at play in a given region, here Québec and Canada.

  149. 149

    IIED, Participatory Learning and Action 63 – How Wide are the Ripples? From Local Participation to International Organisational Learning (London: Park Communications Ltd, 2011), available at: <www.iied.org>.

  150. 150

    Singing is widespread in African culture including in political demonstrations, in the religious sphere (choir singing), in schools and in celebrations. Its popularity across classes and ethnic groups as well as in rural and urban settings make it an ideal tool of legal education and acculturation in the region.

  151. 151

    M.J. Trebilcock and R.J. Daniels, Rule of Law Reform and Development: Charting the Fragile Path of Progress (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2008).

  152. 152

    Ibid.

  153. 153

    Findings from interviews I carried out in Benin in June 2011 tended to show that legal education is a most efficient tool for obviating arbitrary fees. Odile (pseudonym), vendor of school materials in Dantokpa market, Cotonou shared her delight of having joined Street Net, a union of “informal” workers, because it helped her better understand what payments were mandatory for her business and which ones were merely arbitrary and illegal: Interview conducted with Odile, Cotonou (Bénin), June/July 2011.

  154. 154

    By analogy: J. Boddy, Womb as Oasis: The Symbolic Context of Pharaonic Circumcision in Rural Northern Sudan, 9 American Ethnologist (1982), 682. (to help change perceived negative cultural practices Boddy suggests understanding the meaning of the practice (for example “employing” “child-slaves” (“vidomingons”)) by reference to those practising it rather than only from second-hand accounts of it and using arguments derived from local traditions and knowledge rather than foreign information to convince the people it is a practice worth stopping.)

  155. 155

    Data I collected in Benin, Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire from 2010 to 2012 allows to draw preliminary conclusions on the interactions between socio-economic realities of women micro-traders (motherhood, spousal union, ethnic identity and literacy), their economic practices (levels of “formalism” of businesses; types and size of business; types of products and product sourcing; sources of financing; network and associations) and formal business law in the OHADA zone. They show persisting gaps between the “law of the books” and the laws of the street, the detailed analysis of which is beyond the scope of this article.

Published Online: 2013-08-29

©2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin / Boston