The Ministry of Justice and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have advanced discussions to establish a commercial court, a first for the Kingdom. The ADB will provide technical assistance, said a senior ministry official.

Ministry secretary of state Chiv Songhak chaired a meeting last week with ADB representatives Fiona Connell and Justice Anselmo Reyes, among others.

A ministry statement said the two sides discussed a draft law on the functions and standard procedures of a commercial court.

“With the assistance of the ADB, we are at the stage of drafting the law,” said ministry spokesman Chin Malin, following the meeting.

Cambodia Logistics Association (CLA) president Sin Chanthy hailed the decision to launch a dedicated commercial court, saying that until now, trade conflicts could only be resolved through the criminal courts.

He noted that the criminal judiciary were not always familiar with business and trade affairs.

“The new court will be able to resolve and reconcile conflicts of trade and business. It will save time and the staff will be specialists, with an excellent understanding of business affairs,” he said, calling on the government to expedite the launch as soon as possible.

Legal expert Sok Sam Oeun said that the establishment of the commercial court could facilitate legal mechanisms for trade disputes and give investors confidence in investing in Cambodia, especially investors from developed economies.

“The new court will need to have a separate business law, possibly with a tailor-made code of procedures,” he said.

The ministry recently issued two separate directives establishing committees to launch dedicated commercial and labour courts. The new courts are expected to reduce the current backlog of court cases in the existing court system.