The justice ministry is preparing legislation for the establishment of separate courts for commercial and labour disputes, in the interest of a more effective judicial system, according to its secretary of state, Chin Malin.
Malin was speaking at a press conference on the progress of human rights and justice in Cambodia, held by the government's Spokesperson Unit on June 29.
He noted that the legal system at present is divided into civil and criminal courts, and that labour and commercial courts would provide the opportunity for more targeted judicial specialisation.
Currently, all cases involving commercial and labour disputes are referred to the civil court.
A team at the ministry is currently drafting a number of legal documents – encompassing, inter alia, procedural, legal and standard frameworks – to put Cambodia’s first commercial court into operation next year, he said, linking the court’s establishment to the judiciary’s institutional reform strategies.
Malin had previously noted that the basis for the commercial and labour courts was established according to the Law on the Organisation and Functioning of the Courts passed in July 2014, but that the groundwork for these courts was just now being laid due to previous shortfalls in available resources for these projects.
He had predicted in January 2021 that the first of both types of courts would be operational by the end of last year.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director for monitoring at rights group LICADHO, commented that inefficiencies in the justice system could jeopardise the rights of citizens, noting that Cambodian courts have drawn a fair share of criticism.
As a primary example, he brought up the courts’ inconsistent interpretation of legal instruments and implementation thereof, and called for a comprehensive and systematic basis to interpret these.
He elaborated that conviction in a particular court case presided over by one judge could result in no other penalty, but lead to fines or imprisonment when heard by another.
Minister of Justice Koeut Rith met an Asian Development Bank (ADB) delegation at the Royal Academy for Judicial Professions on June 29, to seek collaboration for capacity-building and training for judges and prosecutors in commercial law topics as well as for the preparation of legal standards for the establishment and conduct of commercial courts.
And in arguing for the creation of additional types of courts at June 29’s press conference, Malin reflected on the impracticability of merely assigning judges to any case, without thorough consideration of their expertise and regardless of the nature of the action or proceeding involved.
This, he said, adds to the pre-existing backlog of court cases and risks undermining the quality of the judgements delivered.