Need for better legal norms to lure FDIs
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
THE president of the Brunei Law Society has called for further improvements to be made to procedures and regulations in Brunei for foreign direct investors to be confident enough to invest their resources in the country.
Rozaiman Abdul Rahman questioned whether the current legal system would be able to adequately provide foreign direct investors access to justice in case of any disputes.
Rozaiman, a barrister who also holds a Masters in Business Administration, was delivering a talk at a seminar ‘Facilitating and Promoting Foreign Direct Investment: Legal Options and Overcoming Challenges’ at Universiti Brunei Darussalam yesterday.
“If we want Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) coming in, it would not just be foreign money flowing in but expatriates would be coming here to work and manage these investments as well,” he said. “As a foreigner, how easily can that person get legal help and assistance in Brunei?” he questioned. He stated that the absence of judicial reviews in Brunei could pose a problem for potential investors as it takes away the system of checks-and-balances to the nation’s judiciary and called for alternative solutions to protect foreign investors in Brunei.
“When the Trans-Pacific Partnership is implemented, the investors would be more vulnerable as our markets will be open to challenges from the other signatory countries –and we have the smallest market of all the signatories by far,” he said.
“Grey areas in the law at a micro level in our country would not inspire confidence among investors at home or from abroad,” he said.
Judicial reviews are a challenge to the way in which a decision has been made through the courts, rather than the rights and wrongs of the conclusions reached.
“When foreign investors come to Brunei, they expect to be protected by the law but without judicial reviews, there has to be at least other ways to assure them that Brunei has the social, economical, political and religious stability for their investments to thrive in,” he said.
“The authorities need to find alternatives to establish a framework for a system of checks-and-balances and have a practical approach to how we can complement these FDIs,” he said.
He stated that the legal system must inspire confidence among investors and the lack of it would present an incalculable risk that might cause potential foreign investors to shy away.
“For FDIs to work, it is important for all processes and regulations in Brunei to be transparent and consistent, not changing every time there is a change of personnel within the organisations of the authorities,” he said. “The law and the government policies must not be at loggerheads with each other and there should be a way that people can challenge the legality of it through the proper channels in the judiciary,” he said, referring to a judicial review.
He also stated that judicial reviews are meant as an avenue to ensure that each function of the authorities is not acting above the limits of their powers and not as a tool to challenge the authorities.
The Brunei Times