Transparency of the Regulatory System
The GOTG uses transparent policies and effective laws to foster competition on a non-discriminatory basis to establish “clear rules of the game.” The Gambia’s legal, regulatory, and accounting systems are transparent and consistent with international norms. The Act mandates the Commission to advocate for competition in The Gambia; and to determine and impose penalties or appropriate remedies to ensure businesses comply with prohibited restrictive practices, and monitor compliance, among other things. The Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (GCCP) is a commercial watchdog that ensures the protection of consumers from unfair and misleading market practices, and administers the prohibition of illegal business practices.
There are no informal regulatory processes that are managed by nongovernmental organizations or private sector associations. Rule-making and regulatory authority exists with the President, his cabinet of Ministers, and the committee members under the National Assembly of The Gambia, and various government parastatals. The accounting, legal, and regulatory procedural systems of The Gambia are consistent with international norms. Draft bills or regulations are made available to the public for commenting through public meetings and targeted outreach to stakeholders, such as business associations or other groups. This practice is in line with the U.S. federal notice and comment procedures, and applies to investment laws and regulations in The Gambia.
There are no informal regulatory processes that are managed by nongovernmental organizations or private sector associations. There is no formal stock market such as a stock exchange for trading equity securities; therefore, question on accounting standards is not applicable. The accounting, legal, and regulatory procedural systems of The Gambia are consistent with international norms.
Draft bills or regulations are made available to the public for commenting through public meetings and targeted outreach to stakeholders, such as business associations or other groups. A contract was concluded with LexisNexis in 2009 for the publication of the entire country’s legislation; however access is not free of charge. The National Assembly is also in the process of compiling all regulatory actions on its website. There is no centralized online location where key regulatory actions or their summaries are published. There is no specialized government body tasked with reviewing and monitoring regulatory impact assessments conducted by other individual agencies or government bodies. There are no informal regulatory processes that are managed by nongovernmental organizations or private sector associations.
There are two types of courts in The Gambia, the Superior Courts and the Magistrates Court, the Cadi Court, District Tribunals and such lower courts and tribunals as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly. The judicial power of The Gambia is vested in the courts, which exercise this power according to the respective jurisdictions conferred by an Act of the National Assembly. No new regulatory system reforms have been announced since the last ICS report, but regulatory reform efforts announced in prior years are being implemented; The Investment Policy Plan of The Gambia is still in draft stages.
Proposed laws and regulations are made available to all the relevant stakeholders for their review and discussion at validation workshops. During the process of enactment in the National Assembly, deputies are free to suggest changes. Regulations are not reviewed based on scientific or data-driven assessments. There are no known scientific studies or quantitative analysis conducted on the impact of regulations made publicly available for comment, but there is a public agency, The Gambia Bureau of Statistics, that does develop data based on enacted legislation. Public comments received by regulators are not made public. Only limited information on debt obligation are made available. Documents lack complete information on natural resource revenues as well as financial earnings from state-owned enterprises.
International Regulatory Considerations
The Gambia is a member of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and as such, is signatory to the 1975 ECOWAS Treaty, which harmonizes investment rules.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) first introduced competition legislation in 2008, including a prohibition on anticompetitive mergers.
The Gambia has its own regulatory system, which it designs with stakeholders from the international community of NGOs, but international norms or standards referenced or incorporated into the country’s regulatory system are often based on the UK system of regulations. The international norms and standards of the United Kingdom are referenced and incorporated into The Gambia’s regulatory system.
The Gambia is a member of the WTO. The government does not notify the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) of all draft technical regulations. However, draft technical regulations are available to relevant stakeholders like the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), if requested.
Legal System and Judicial Independence
The country’s legal system is based on English common law and there are effective means for enforcing property and contractual rights. The Gambia has a written and consistently applied commercial law, which is found in the Companies Act. Monetary judgments can be made in both the investor’s currency and local currency. The Gambia does not have a written commercial and/or contractual law as its legal system is based on Common Law. The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and although the courts are not totally free from influence of the executive branch, they have demonstrated their independence on occasion. The Supreme Court, presided over by a chief justice, has both civil and criminal jurisdiction. Appeals against decisions of district tribunals (or the industrial tribunal in the case of labor disputes) may be lodged with the lower courts, the High Court and the Supreme Court, which is the highest court of appeal in the country.
Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
The investment laws and regulations of The Gambia apply equally to local and foreign investors. These include unclear provisions of some of the laws related to investment, such as competition, labor and corruption, and, in some instances, regulations do not exist to implement the laws effectively. For information on the laws, rules, procedures and reporting required, foreign investors can visit the website of the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA): GIEPA . GIEPA is a government agency set up to promote investment, export, and entrepreneurship development, and provides a one-stop-shop for investors and is responsible for attracting foreign direct investment.
GCCPC is the body primarily responsible for the promotion of competition and the protection of consumers mandated by three acts, namely: The Competition Act 2007, The Consumer Protection Act 2014, and The Essential Commodities Act 2015. No major investment related laws/ regulations, and judicial decisions came out within the past year.
Competition and Anti-Trust Laws
The Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (GCCPC) is a commercial watchdog that reviews transactions for competition-related concerns and ensures the protection of consumers from unfair and misleading market practices, and administers the prohibition of illegal business practices.
Expropriation and Compensation
The Constitution of The Gambia provides the legal framework for the protection of private ownership of property and only provides for compulsory acquisition by the state if this is found to be necessary for defense, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, town and country planning. During President Jammeh’s 22 years in office, state paramilitary officials were known to arrive unannounced on private property and tear down any standing structures on the property in question. Claimants alleged a lack of due process and compensation stemming from these incidents under President Jammeh.
The Gambia is a member of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), but there is no specific legislation providing for enforcement of ICSID awards. The Gambia is not a signatory to the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Investor-State Dispute Settlement
The Gambia is a signatory to the 1975 ECOWAS Treaty that was revised in 1993 toward the establishment of a Community Investment Code to harmonize investment rules. The Gambia does not have any BITs or FTAs with the United States.
The local courts recognize and enforce foreign arbitral awards issued against the government; however, due to executive interference during the Jammeh regime, local courts were not in a position to enforce foreign arbitral awards issued against the government.
In June 2013, the government announced a ban on the importation of frozen poultry parts, which constituted the largest U.S. export to The Gambia, worth over USD 7 million a year.
The ban was lifted in November 2013, but a statement issued by the Ministry of Trade imposed a new condition that all shipments of poultry products entering the country required Society Générale de Surveillance (SGS) certification that they are hormone-free. A U.S. financial group purchased a banking group with bank locations in several West African countries in 2016, including in The Gambia. However, the previous owner of the bank refused to acknowledge the new ownership and the U.S. financial group has been involved in lengthy litigation in Gambian courts since 2017. As of this moment, no final resolution has been reached, despite numerous engagements by U.S. officials with Gambian officials on this matter.
A groundnut processing plant at Denton Bridge is the biggest industrial complex in the country, and its hostile takeover by the government in 1999 sparked a protracted legal battle. The last major dispute with foreign investors was with a Swiss group over the assets of The Gambia Groundnut Corporation in 1998.
International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts
The Gambia is a member of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), but there is no specific legislation providing for enforcement of ICSID awards.
However, there is an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism as a means for settling disputes between private parties.
Arbitration is governed by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 2005, and is generally based on the UNCITRAL Model Law, with some provisions adapted from the UNCITRAL Rules. The Gambian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) is currently engaged in setting up a Dispute Resolution Center. Local courts recognize, and can enforce foreign arbitral awards; however executive directives and interference prevented them from ably enforcing those awards in the past. There have been reports of complaints about the court processes during former President Jammeh’s regime, when rulings tended to overwhelmingly favor the GOTG.
In the past one year, Gambian SOE’s have not been involved in investment disputes that were determined by any domestic courts.
Bankruptcy is covered by the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act of 1992. Creditors, equity shareholders, and holders of other financial contracts may file for both liquidation and reorganization.