ADVOCATES OF THE CAMEROON BAR / OAPI ACCREDITED PATENT AND TRADEMARK ATTORNEYS / AGENTS
THE LEGAL SYSTEM IN CAMEROON
Common Law, along side the English Language and the English way of life were introduced in a small part of Cameroon, currently representing 2 of the 10 Provinces that make up Cameroon by the English during their Trusteeship over this part of the country. This was done along the lines of Common Law Legislation that was applicable in the neighbouring English colony of Nigeria. This explains why certain major Acts adopted by Nigeria Legislative organs as well as case law of certain Nigerian jurisdictions is still applicable in this part of Cameroon which was managed by the English as part of Nigeria and referred to as Southern Cameroon. Independent Cameroon thus inherited a Bilingual and Bijural legal system on the lines mentioned above. Without going into any political ramifications it is worth noting here that attempts at harmonizing the two legal systems have often met with a lot of objection and mutual suspicion especially by Cameroonian of English and a Common law background, because they consider that both the English language and the common law are being marginalized in the harmonization process. The climax of this discontent is the promulgation into law by Cameroon of the treaty to Harmonize Business Law in Africa (OHADA) signed in Port Louis on 17 October 1993. It is worth noting that this Treaty which seeks to Harmonize Business Law in 14 French Speaking African Countries including Cameroon failed to take any consideration of Cameroon’s Peculiar situation, given that both the English language and the Common Law which are so jealously protected by Anglophone Cameroon were ignored. Be it as it may, the legal harmonization process in Cameroon continues and has borne fruits both at the national and regional levels. At the national level, Cameroon now has a uniform penal code, Land Law and Labor Law. Attempts in other areas such as Criminal and Civil procedures have been unfruitful. At a Regional level, Cameroon now has Uniform Legislation on the following areas: Insurance Law, Maritime Law, Banking Law, Arbitration, Securities, General Commercial Law, Companies and Economic Interest Groups etc. For further details and S Ngu. His profile and contact details are set out below:
Managing Partner and main contact person:
Me S Ngu is the Firms managing Partner and contact person. Born in Cameroon on February 4, 1967. Education: Huddersfield University (UK), South Bank University London (UK), Queen Mary and Westfield College - University of London (UK), University of Yaounde (Cameroon). Holds the following qualifications : MSc (Advanced IT), CPE (Law), LLB (Hons), Postgraduate Diploma (IT), PGC (Intellectual Property Law), BL (called to the Cameroon Bar in 1992), Certificate in Inellectual Property (WIPO) etc. Scholar: International Bar Association, United Nations, World Bank, World Intellectual Property Organisation
Author: The Golden Gate, NewsLetter , Scholars’ Alumni Group, International
Bar Association, Section on Business Law, May 1996;
An Analysis of the Impact of Electronic Commerce on Intellectual Property Rights;
The Protection of Intellectual Property Rights Under the OAPI (African Union); Legal Aspect of Doing Business in Cameroon;
Client Litigation Guide for Cameroon.
Areas of Practice: Intellectual Property, Information Technology, Electronic Commerce, Environmental Law, Securities, Commercial Law, Investment , Employment Law, Arbitration, Joint venture, Business law, Criminal law etc.
The Courts in Cameroon are set up by a Law on judicial organization which divides Courts as follows: Traditional Law Court, High Court, Military Courts, Courts of Appeal, the State Security Court and the Supreme Court. The Traditional Law Court, High Court, Military Court are Courts of First Instance while the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court are Appellate Courts. The Administrative Bench of the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to hear administrative matters at First Instance. It is worth noting that as a general rule, the Supreme Court only determines appeals on point of law.
Although, arbitration has all along been part of local law and arbitration clauses are not uncommon in many contracts evolving local Enterprises, the concept is mostly considered by many local Enterprises more as a prelude rather than an alternative to litigation. However, one of the main objectives of the Treating setting up, the Organization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA) as well as the OHADA Uniform Act on Arbitration, is to institutionalise and encourage arbitration in order to avoid the short comings of litigation in Commercial matters. The Common Court of Justice and Arbitration was set up by the Treaty in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire to play the role of a regional Arbitration Centre. Article 1 of the said Act states clearly that the OHADA Arbitration Rules shall be applicable by any Arbitration Tribunal sitting in any of the countries that is a signatory to the OHADA Treaty. Article 34 of the same Act goes further to precise that awards made under other Arbitration Rules would be recognized in the member states under conditions provided for by the Act or other International Conventions. It is hoped that with this development, the Courts, litigants and the public at large, would be more familiar and receptive to Arbitration, notably under the Arbitration rules of the OHADA Uniform Act on Arbitration .
COSTS OF LITIGATION
The general rule on costs is that each party bears his or her own costs. However, at the end of litigation, the Court normally orders the loser to reimburse the winner's court fees. Legal fees are, as a general principle not recoverable. In certain parts of Cameroon where principles of Common Law are applicable, the Courts are allowed to judiciously exercise inherent discretionary power by ordering punitive costs against any party for reasons as varied as default and abuse of Court Process. Because of judicial delays and the varied nature of the workload of the Courts handling Commercial disputes it is difficult to say how long Commercial disputes usually take to be heard. This is further complicated by the fact that there are 2 different procedural rules applicable in the Country. The Civil procedure rules, styled after the Common Law Civil procedure rules applicable in the English speaking part of Cameroon, require the ordering of pleadings and a trial, while the “Procedure Civile et Commerciale,” styled after French Civil Procedure is based mainly on written submissions and the presentation of supporting documents. On the overrule it would take at least 12 months for a Civil or Commercial dispute to be heard at First Instance and about another 12 months for it to be heard on appeal. There is currently a harmonized Criminal Procedure Code applicable in the whole country.
ENGLISH AND FRENCH LANGUAGES
We provide a full range of legal services in the English and French languages. We also provide translation services: English to French and French to English. We are also able to officially certify translated documents.