Okoli P (2022) From Brussels to Addis Ababa: A Contextual and Comparative Analysis of Access to Justice Under Private International Law in Africa. In: Ndulo M & Emeziem C (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of African Law: A Historical, Political, Social and Economic Context of Law in Africa. London: Routledge. https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Handbook-of-African-Law-A-Historical-Political-Social/Ndulo-Emeziem/p/book/9780815350682
Several private international legal frameworks have been developed in Europe, which has a long history of international legal cooperation through the European Union and its predecessors. The legislative experience and success of the European Union are exemplified by the Brussels legal regime on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. Africa has not been as successful as Europe in developing legal frameworks that are applicable and effective on a continental basis.
Using the Brussels regime (the EU legal framework for regulating jurisdiction in civil and commercial maters) as a comparative context especially considering the free movement of foreign judgments, this chapter explores the suitability of African regional courts in facilitating the growth of private international law in Africa. There is an investigation into the apparent inability or reluctance of the African Union to develop any effective private international legal framework that can work on a continental basis. This chapter considers the African Union, South African Development Community and Economic Community of West African States legal regimes with a view to ascertaining whether two issues have any impact on the growth of private international law in Africa. First, these regional courts’ practical emphasis on human rights enforcement. Second, the exposure of the courts’ judgments to political or legal manoeuvrings of Member States. This chapter then draws conclusions on whether the African Union or regional organisations best serve the interests of litigants in the context of private international law.