A Ministry of Justice official said that a Commercial Court could be established and put into action as soon as 2024.

Addressing the February 2 "AmCham Business Law Conclave: Critical Updates That You Need to Know for 2023" in Phnom Penh, justice ministry secretary of state Chiv Songhak said that the ministry has established a commission to launch the court, in accordance a January 21, 2021 directive.

This commission, he said, was tasked with preparing legal documents and regulations pertaining to the establishment of the lower and higher courts, deciding on a location for the court buildings, and determining the legal definition of commercial conflict.

He added that the commission had convened several meetings to lay out the necessary action plans and key concepts. The court aims to be independent, transparent and efficient.

“A corruption-free commercial court will provide easy access to the parties to any disputes and will resolve the cases quickly,” he said.

He explained that the commission has drafted a law on commercial procedures, as well as proposed a location for the physical structure of the court.

“The court – in Phnom Penh – will be independent of the provincial courts, including the financial administration. The commission is also drawing up a proposed jurisdiction for the new court, in the hope that it will resolve nationwide contract disputes, bankruptcy cases, intellectual property cases and international trade tax cases,” he said.

He added that the commission has identified some points of law which current legislation says are the purview of the Phnom Penh and provincial Courts. The commission has highlighted this, among other issues, as potential roadblocks to the establishment of the new judicial facility.

“First, we do not have adequate human resources. Second, we do not have legal documents relating to the commercial court. Third, no legal procedures relating to the commercial court have been established. Fourth, we have not yet defined precisely which disputes will fall under its jurisdiction,” he said.

Songhak added that the justice ministry was determined to overcome these challenges and establish the court.

The court will have two levels – the Commercial Court and a Commercial Court of Appeal. Further appeals will be the responsibility of the Supreme Court.

Ly Tayseng, an adviser to the Ministry of Justice, confirmed that the court could be functioning by 2024.

“Preparation requires more than just legislation and documents. We need a physical location. If we can select a site and begin construction as soon as possible, it is possible that we will complete it in a year,” he said.

He said the establishment of the Commercial Court was not a simple task, but the ministry specialists were prepared to dedicate themselves to overcoming any barriers they encountered.

In 2021, Cambodia promulgated a law on investment which encouraged clear and specific protection mechanisms for investors in Cambodia. The government is also pushing for the development of policy and strategy documents in several commercial sectors, including garment manufacturing, electronic vehicles, tourism and energy supply.