There is often little or no resource for businesses or lawyers (in private practice and those working with airlines, financiers, and insurers) to know whom to contact for advice on aviation matters in the African region. The various published lists of lawyers are not necessarily reliable or may have no entries for lawyers in a whole host of countries in the African region. Equally, there is little to assist and provide the opportunity for local lawyers to learn and develop their skills in aviation law related matters.
The lack of information has also become apparent in the difficulties a number of African countries have had in trying to promote / attract new capital to modernise their aircraft fleets. Good legal advice and representation oil the wheels of commerce but good laws also have to be in existence to help promote that commerce in the first place.
In the aviation context, the Cape Town Convention is a treaty which has the potential, if properly implemented and applied, to bring benefits for the countries concerned, their airlines, passengers and trade / industry -- plus of course extra work for local law firms as deals materialise locally which might not have happened otherwise.
I was pleased to help Tanzania with its successful ratification of the Cape Town Convention in 2010 but Cape Town is only part of the need. We need to tackle the wider issues, helping to (a) identify and promote lawyers in Africa with aviation experience (b) train lawyers who already have experience in related areas (ships, project finance, carriage of goods, insurance, banking) and are keen to learn about aviation and (c) connect African lawyers both with their peers in other African countries and more globally for the common good.
So it was that AERIAL was conceived as an idea in late 2010.
However AERIAL’s birth and growth is due not to me but to the keen and overwhelming support and enthusiasm of the African legal community, particularly from those founding member firms who have given their time to produce the materials, country by country, which are now published on this website and which give such a useful overview of the position in their respective countries
AERIAL is a not for profit legal initiative. It is open to lawyers in both private practice and in house (including at airlines, financiers, insurers, government departments and MROs) and is free of charge to join.
The lawyers in the network share information, expertise and resources on African countries' aviation laws, the challenges faced and aim to work on common themes and objectives -- whether Cape Town, open skies, noise / safety / environmental issues, as well of course, for law firms, creating tangible benefits of work referral, knowledge and client contact.