For information only - not an official document

28 September 2015

OHADA Enacts Legislation Based on UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency

Seventeen States enact legislation based on the Model Law

VIENNA, 28 September (UN Information Service) - With the passage through the Council of Ministers of the Uniform Act on Insolvency (Acte uniforme portant organisation des procédures collectives d'apurement du passif), the 17 Member States of OHADA (the Organisation pour l'Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires) join the 23 jurisdictions around the world that have enacted legislation based on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency. The OHADA legislation will take effect within five months in all 17 States - Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo and Democratic Republic of the Congo. The new law establishes regimes to address cross-border insolvency cases both from outside OHADA States and internal to OHADA. It also introduces a number of reforms to the OHADA insolvency framework consistent with the UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Insolvency Law and the World Bank Principles on Effective Insolvency and Creditor/Debtor Rights. Enactment of legislation based on UNCITRAL texts is a positive example of the role UNCITRAL can play in assisting law reform in regional economic integration organizations like OHADA.

The UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency, adopted in 1997, is designed to assist States to equip their insolvency laws with a modern, harmonized and fair framework to address more effectively instances of cross-border insolvency. Those instances include cases where the insolvent debtor has assets in more than one State or where some of the creditors of the debtor are not from the State where the insolvency proceeding is taking place. The Model Law respects the differences among national procedural laws and does not attempt a substantive unification of insolvency law. It offers solutions that help in several modest but significant ways. These include the following: foreign assistance for an insolvency proceeding taking place in the enacting State; foreign representatives' access to courts of the enacting State; recognition of foreign proceedings; cross-border cooperation; and coordination of concurrent proceedings.

The Model Law was drafted by UNCITRAL's Working Group on Insolvency Law, approved and adopted by the Commission in May 1997 and endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1997.

Prior to OHADA's enactment, legislation based on the Model Law had been adopted in the following jurisdictions: Australia (2008); British Virgin Islands; overseas territory of the United Kingdom (2003); Canada (2005); Chile (2013); Colombia (2006); Great Britain (2006); Greece (2010); Japan (2000); Mauritius (2009); Mexico (2000); Montenegro (2002); New Zealand (2006); Philippines (2010); Poland (2003); Republic of Korea (2006); Romania (2002); Serbia (2004); Seychelles (2013); Slovenia (2007); South Africa (2000); Uganda (2011); Vanuatu (2013); and the United States (2005).


The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) is the core legal body of the United Nations system in the field of international trade law. Its mandate is to remove legal obstacles to international trade by progressively modernizing and harmonizing trade law. It prepares legal texts in a number of key areas such as international commercial dispute settlement, electronic commerce, insolvency, international payments, sale of goods, transport law, procurement and infrastructure development. UNCITRAL also provides technical assistance to law reform activities, including assisting Member States to review and assess their law reform needs and to draft the legislation required to implement UNCITRAL texts. The UNCITRAL Secretariat is located in Vienna, Austria , and maintains a website at

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For information contact:

Timothy Lemay
Principal Legal Officer
UNCITRAL Secretariat
Email: timothy.lemay[at]