Project on trade courts reform, attraction of investors [Archives:2003/666/Business & Economy]

September 8 2003

Mahyoub Al-Kamaly
Issues of commercial and investment disputes have urged the Yemeni government to implement a project for judiciary reform. The project costs $2 million and 207 thousand to which the Development Program contributes with around $one million and 300 thousand.
The project aims at improving and developing Yemen's justice sector as well as developing judicial procedures and building human and institutional capacities of judiciary sector. The goal is to encourage and activate trade.
In order to realize such aims Yemeni government has established seven trade and taxation courts in Sana'a and other provincial capitals of some governorates. Those courts are entrusted with deciding trade issues and cases and disputes without delay. Among such cases are issues of bankruptcy, banks, trade marks and names, foreign companies and skipping of taxes that costs the country around YR 100 billion.
Establishment of trade courts has come following several developments that occurred in the trade sector. Around forty factories and national companies have declared their bankruptcy, liquidation of the industrial bank, privatization of the National Commercial Bank, engagement of a number of national companies in problems with importers of foreign commodities bearing the same trade marks of national companies, as what happened last July when a Pakistani company as a commodity was imported bearing the mark of a product by the National Tobacco and Matches company under the name of Kamaran Cigarettes.
Responding to complaints by merchants and businessmen abut the delay and slowness in deciding trade disputes and weakness of fairness by some courts, Yemen government established trade courts of first instance in the capital and the cities of Aden, Hudeida, Hadrmout and Taiz, besides two courts specialized in studying taxation cases in order also to study challenges on taxation decisions and lawsuits related to skipping of taxes.
In September 2002 many of the Yemeni expatriate communities filed complaints with the 2nd conference for the expatriates held in Sana'a. Complaints focused on impeding their investment projects owing to disputes about plots of land that had not been decided by judiciary at that time yet. Investors said the slowness in solving their problems had led to impeding of their projects in the free zone in Aden and that had caused weakening of the investment process there.
Sometime in this year Prime Minister Abduqader ba Jammal had announced about the government intention in Yemen to employ judges from Arab countries to undertake the task of trade judiciary and to get rid of judicial bureaucracy for the purpose of attracting foreign investments to Yemen.
The supreme council for judiciary had in August 2001 ousted 20 judges from judiciary career on charges of ill performance in justice function and pensioned other 108 in the context of a project for reforming judicial sector. The Yemeni government has pledged in its program submitted to parliament in April to tackle aspects of failure the trade courts are suffering from and also the courts specialized in studying public property.
Last year tens of judges were sacked and many were referred to accountability before special councils.
The Yemeni government intends to reform trade judiciary with the aim of preparing convenient investment climate for increasing activity of private sector in investments connected to agricultural and industrial production and achieving a growth rate in the gross domestic product in non-oil investment ranging between 5-5.5% in the coming two years.
Dr Adnan al-Jifri the minister of justice has announced that his ministry would work for minimizing corruption in the bid for accelerating procedures of court performance and bringing justice closer to people through activating the role of judicial inspection and accountability of judges and members of local prosecution on their performance of jobs.
Sana'a University had lately tendered a complaint to competent authorities including non-implementation of a ruling in its favour issued 17 years ago and that the cause was one of the senior officials in power. Mr al-Jifri said not implementing the ruling was a problem weakening the authority of judiciary and that justified the significance of the present project for trade judiciary reform in Yemen under the support of the United Nations Development Program and a number of donor countries that have committed themselves to funding the project for helping the Yemeni government for obtaining the membership of the World Trade Organisation.