applicable legal regime
The Rwandan legal system is derived from French/Belgian civil law, but there has been a gradual introduction of the Anglo-Saxon common law system. Hence, the current Rwandan legal system is a hybrid containing both civil and common law features.
In the event of a dispute arising between a foreign investor and the Rwanda Development Board ("RDB") or the government in respect of a registered business enterprise, all efforts are made to settle the dispute through negotiations towards an amicable settlement. If the dispute is still not settled through negotiations, it may be submitted for arbitration in accordance with the following methods, as may be mutually agreed upon by the parties involved:
- within the framework of bilateral or multilateral agreement on investment protection to which the government and the country of which the investor is a national are parties; or
- in accordance with any other international procedure for the settlement of investment disputes.
Disputes between companies may be resolved through amicable settlement or out of court settlement (conciliation and arbitration), with the Kigali International Arbitration Centre serving as a platform for arbitrations. Alternatively, disputes may also be resolved through the ordinary court system (the Commercial Court, the Commercial High Court and the Supreme Court depending on the magnitude of the claim).
land acquisition, planning and use
The use and management of land is governed by Law N° 43/2013 Governing Land in Rwanda. In terms of the this, foreigners are entitled to an emphyteutic lease on land, not exceeding 49 years, and which is based on a land use business plan approved by relevant authorities.
Foreigners may be granted freehold titles in special economic zones, or if provided for by an international convention Rwanda is a signatory to, or under the condition of reciprocity derived from bilateral agreements.
|The Rwandan Competition and Consumer Protection Act regulates merger control in Rwanda.|
The Competition Act defines a merger as occurring when (i) two or more enterprises join together to form a new enterprise; and (ii) one or more enterprises join together and directly or indirectly merge their assets through the purchase of equity shares or part of assets of another company.
The Rwandan competition authority has not yet determined merger thresholds.
The Rwandan competition authority will take into account public interest considerations in making a determination on the merger.
Rwanda is a pre-implementation regime, therefore approval must be sought from the Rwandan competition authorities prior to implementation of the proposed transaction.
Rwanda is a member of the regional competition bodies, COMESA and the EAC. The EAC is not operational yet, while COMESA does have merger control. Merger activities in Rwanda should be conducted with COMESA in mind.
| prohibited practices|
The Competition Act prohibits horizontal and vertical agreements, decisions and concerted practices between undertakings that have, as their object, the undermining, prevention, restriction or distortion of competition, unless they are exempt or fall part of a single economic entity.
Cartel conduct (such as price fixing, market division and collusive tendering) and minimum resale price maintenance are prohibited by the Competition Act.
The Competition Act prohibits abuses of dominance.
A firm engaging in a restrictive horizontal or vertical agreement, or abusing its dominant position, commits an offence and may face sanctions, the amount of which is not specified in the Competition Act.
COMESA regulates prohibited practices in the COMESA area. Activities in Rwanda should be conducted with this regional competition body in mind.
Any enterprise investing at least USD100 000 in Rwanda is automatically granted the right to appoint three expatriates.
Expatriates may work in Rwanda provided they have a work permit issued by the Department of Employment of the Ministry of Public Service and Labour. Rwanda has scrapped work permits for foreigners with a master’s degree or higher qualification.
Work permits are usually granted to foreign enterprises approved to operate in Rwanda if the applicants are key personnel. However, any enterprise may recruit any category of expatriate skilled labour if Rwandans are not available.
A foreigner who has a contract of employment of more than 90 days must apply for a work permit within 15 working days from the day of entry in Rwanda.
|local employment vs secondment|
An employee may be seconded to Rwanda.
It is not a requirement for the employee to be employed by a local entity in Rwanda when performing services in Rwanda.
|fixed-term contracts and temporary employment services|
Fixed-term contracts are allowed, specifying a fixed period of employment, at the end of which the contractual relationship is automatically terminated.
Fixed-term contracts may be renewed as many times as agreed on by the parties.
Any dismissal or resignation prior to the expiry of the fixed-term contract on grounds other than those provided for by law compels the party taking the initiative of termination to pay an indemnity equivalent to the remuneration for the remaining contract period without prejudice to other compensation that may be paid. In light of this, an open-ended contract is normally recommended for employers.
Rwandan employment legislation does not provide for labour brokers and this is not a familiar concept in practice.
|participation in statutory schemes|
Local and expatriate employees must contribute to the mandatory pension scheme managed by the Rwanda Social Security Board ("RSSB"), regardless of their nationality or status of employment. In other words, there is no exemption for foreign employees working in Rwanda.
|payment in local currency||Remuneration musts be paid in local currency.|
|restraint of trade agreements||The law is silent about the validity and enforceability of restraint of trade agreements.|