Worldwide: Commercial Law - Regional Arrangements

Last Updated: 21 December 2018
Article by Adams & Adams



The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation entered into force on 1 July 2010 with the following members: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The protocol was signed on 20 November 2009.

The establishment of the East African Community Common Market (EACM) is in terms of the provisions of the EAC and provides for the free movement of goods, labour, services, and capital which aim to significantly boost trade and investments and make the region more productive and prosperous.

The protocol provides for the institutional framework for the EACM, approximation and harmonisation of policies, laws and systems, safeguard measures, measures to address imbalances, monitoring and evaluation, regulations, directives and decisions, annexes, amendment of the protocol, settlement of disputes, entry into force and depository and registration.

The annexes provide guidance for the (EACM). To date the following annexes are in place:

  • Free movement of persons.
  • Free movement of workers.
  • Right of establishment.
  • Right of residence.
  • Schedule of commitments on the progressive liberalisation of services.
  • Schedule on the removal of restrictions on the free movement of capital.

A monitoring process began in the member states in 2012, regarding the implementation of the EACM. To date, two reports have been before the Council of Ministers, expressing concern over delay in the protocols implementation. The Council accordingly issued a directive, in terms of which all member states have now established a National Implementation Committee in the member territories.


The East African Community Monetary Union Protocol was created to harmonize monetary and fiscal policies and establish a common central bank for the EAC. To date, it has been ratified by Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania. The rationale behind the Monetary Union Protocol is for the establishment of a monetary union, with reduced currency risk and thus creating incentives for trade.


The Organisation pour l'Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires (OHADA) aims to harmonise commercial law of its member states by the development of common and simple rules in line with the member states' economic climates. Furthermore, OHADA aims to implement the appropriate judicial procedures and encourages the use of arbitration for the settlement of disputes.

The member states of OHADA are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Comoros, Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Niger, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Chad and Togo. With the exception of Guinea, all the current members of OHADA are also members of the Franc Zone. Furthermore, OHADA represents a common legal background in that all the OHADA members, with the exception of Cameroon who has a common law system, all the member states have a civil law system.

OHADA issues unified legislation called Uniform Acts. These Acts are directly applicable to all member states and supersede the previous national legislation on the same topic. Currently there are eight Acts on various areas of law including company law, commercial law, securities, insolvency and arbitration. In relation to company law, the Acts regulates the different stages of business transactions, from starting up a company to obtaining credit, protecting investors and resolving bankruptcy.

Amongst the institutional achievements of OHADA is the creation of its supranational Common Court of Justice (CCJA) which will aim to achieve a uniform judicial interpretation of the OHADA founding treaty, any regulations thereto and the Uniform Acts.


The main objectives of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is to "achieve development, peace and security, and economic growth, to alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the peoples of Southern Africa, and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration, built on democratic principles and equitable and sustainable development."

The member states of the SADC are Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The SADC Treaty establishes a series of institutional mechanisms, including the following:

  • Summit of Heads of State or Government is responsible for the overall policy direction and control of functions of the community, ultimately making it the policymaking institution of the SADC.
  • Council of Ministers oversees the functioning and development of the SADC and ensures that policies are properly implemented.
  • Standing Committee of Officials is a technical advisory committee to the Council of Ministers. It consists of one Permanent or Principal Secretary, or an official of equivalent rank from each Member State from a ministry responsible for economic planning or finance.
  • The SADC Tribunal ensures adherence and proper interpretation of the provisions of the SADC Treaty and subsidiary instruments, and adjudicates upon disputes referred to it.
  • The SADC Organ on Politics Defence and Security is managed on a Troika basis and is responsible for promoting peace and security in the SADC region.
  • SADC National Committees have been assembled to provide input at national level in the formulation of regional policies and strategies, as well as to coordinate and oversee the implementation of programmes at national level.

The SADC seeks to achieve regional integration and to eradicate poverty. The Protocols are legally binding documents committing the member states to the objectives and specific procedures stated within it. In order for a Protocol to enter in to force, two-thirds of the Member States need to ratify or sign the agreement, giving formal consent and making the document officially valid.

A provision for any disputes arising from the application or interpretation of a Protocol is made by referring grievances to the SADC Tribunal if they cannot be resolved amicably through regular diplomatic channels.

Currently, the SADC has 26 Protocols, including those that have not yet entered into force.


The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is a regional body, governed by the Treaty Establishing the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. It is aimed at promoting, inter alia, economic co-operation between member states, and to this end a free trade association was established during 2000.

COMESA has 19 member states, namely: Burundi, Union of Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland, Seychelles, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Of particular importance is COMESA's Competition Commission, which became operational on 14 January 2013. The Competition Commission regulates certain aspects of competition between firms in member states, for example, anti-competitive business practices and mergers.

The Competition Commission Regulations provide for compulsory notification of mergers where both the acquiring and target firm operate in 2 or more member states. The financial thresholds for notification are currently set at zero, which means that all mergers will have to be notified to the Competition Commission. The Competition Commission has, however, recently published guidelines in which the Commission puts forth its view that a merger will only be notifiable if:

  • At least 1 merging party operates in 2 or more Member States (an undertaking "operates" in a Member State if it has annual turnover in that Member State exceeding USD 5 million).
  • A target undertaking operates in a Member State.
  • It is not the case that more than two-thirds of the annual turnover in the Common Market of each of the merging parties is achieved or held within 1 and the same Member State.

It is, however, important to note that although the Guidelines refer to a minimum annual turnover in a Member State of USD 5 million prior to a merging party being considered as operating in that Member State, the monetary notification threshold is still set at zero – thus, should a merging party's annual turnover be less than USD 5 million, the monetary threshold will still be met (as it is set at zero) but notification will not be required as a result of neither merging party 'operating' within a Member State.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions