May 8 (Reuters) - The Astana-based International Arbitration Centre (IAC) is adding specialists in Islamic law to its dispute resolution services, as Kazakhstan’s financial hub looks to Islamic finance to attract new business.
Launched in January, the IAC provides mediation and arbitration services as an alternative to traditional court litigation. Islamic finance has seen a growing number of court cases in recent years.
The IAC is an independent body launched to complement the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC), an economic zone aimed at developing the former Soviet republic’s financial sector.
The ability to handle civil and commercial disputes in Islamic finance is important as the sector is now part of everyday business dealings across the region, said IAC Chairman Barbara Dohmann.
“It is clear that there is high demand for Islamic finance and sharia expertise in international arbitration disputes in Kazakhstan and throughout the Eurasia region.”
The IAC has now appointed London-based lawyer and Islamic scholar Bilal Khan to its panel of arbitrators, allowing the IAC to handle disputes around sharia-compliant transactions such as Islamic bonds and insurance products.
Separately, the AIFC plans to set up a central sharia board to help oversee its Islamic finance efforts, while the finance ministry is preparing an issuance of Islamic bonds. (Reporting by Bernardo Vizcaino; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)