Legal Advisory Council completes first review of AIFC’s commercial laws

ASTANA – Legal Advisory Council (LAC) at the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) recently completed the first review of the commercial laws underpinning the AIFC’s operations, which began Jan. 1.

Michael Blair.

Michael Blair.

“This was a considerable achievement, bearing in mind the short time allowed for the task. This involved 10 meetings, monthly or more frequently. Overall, some 30 sets of Regulations and Rules were reviewed, amended and approved,” Legal Advisory Council Chairman at the AIFC Michael Blair said in an exclusive interview with The Astana Times.

The council includes senior commercial lawyers in London with transactional and advisory links to Kazakhstan. The council also includes lawyers with financial regulatory and forensic experience. All members, said Blair, must have an understanding of the AIFC’s goals and the ability to help achieve them.

Completing the review involved close review across a broad spectrum of laws.

“The main challenge was the breadth of the material that had to be covered. It ranged from early work on contract law and employment law through to late work on the rules for courts and for arbitration. In the meantime, we had to tackle other broad topics, such as the law of companies, partnerships, insolvency, personal property, security and obligations (tort),” the chairman said.

The review also involved commercial topics such as data protection, netting and payment finality. The LAC members had to review the core of the financial regulatory system and set up in the Financial Services Framework Regulations. All this posed quite a challenge over the course of the year.

“The second challenge was the shortness of time that was available for the task. This must have imposed even more of a burden on the staff drafting the texts, including expert counsel and the staff supporting the LAC, than on the members themselves,” Blair said.

This year, the council has less pressure, but it still has monthly meetings. The LAC members plan to review recent constitutional amendments made to facilitate the AIFC’s development, and issues of lesser detail which crop up in the establishment phase.

“I also expect that the LAC will wish to consider certain revisions of their 2017 work, since it was obvious to all in 2017 that there were potential improvements in the texts that could not be tackled in the time allowed. So, some issues had to be left over, especially where the relevant precedent being followed from other centres was itself out of date by international standards. Some of these can, I hope, come forward for consideration this year,” Blair said.