Prime Minister Hun Sen requested that the Ministry of Justice prepare legal frameworks that will expedite the formation of dedicated commercial and labour courts.

The remarks came as he presided over the June 26 inauguration of a “Court of Justice” building that serves both the Phnom Penh Municipal Court and Court of Appeal.

“We need to do so in order to build trust in investing and doing business in Cambodia. We need to accelerate the preparation of draft laws and statutes, so we can manage the judicial system in a transparent manner, now and in the future,” he said.

He added that a draft law on the establishment of a commercial court needs to be sped up, as problems have multiplied.

“The government is developing the country to attract investors. I request that the justice ministry draw up the necessary laws during the next mandate,” he said.

“We have to establish a specialised commercial court to hear specific business cases,” he explained.

Justice minister Koeut Rith noted that the ministry is collaborating with all relevant sides to create the necessary draft laws and choose a location for the new court.

“We have made accomplishing this work a priority for the next mandate. Right now, I would estimate that the work is 50 per cent complete. We want to establish commercial and labour courts that will ensure transparency and trust, and a ministry working group is focused on this important task,” he said.

He also noted that the establishment of commercial and labour courts had also received the support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng said on June 26 that dedicated commercial and labour courts would contribute to building trust in domestic and foreign investors.

“We have thus far used the general courts to resolve trade conflicts. This is slow, and costs a lot of money. We have been working with the ministry to establish a commercial court for several years, but have not yielded results. The private sector lauds the prime minister’s push for a commercial court,” he added.

Ky Sereyvath, an economics researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, explained that the majority of trade conflicts tended to be resolved by arbitration, rather than a punitive system, which deterred some investors.

“Major investors are risk averse, and at present, when a crisis arises, it is hard to solve. It is also a challenge for the judicial system, as most court officials are used to criminal or civil cases, and do not specialise in commercial matters,” he said.

“The establishment of a commercial court is of the utmost importance in attracting investors, as it will ensure that trade conflicts will be resolved promptly,” he added.