The Need to Revitalize Commercial  Courts in Yemen [Archives:1998/31/Law & Diplomacy]

August 3 1998

Ismail Al-Ghabiry,
Yemen Times
Qualitative and specialized courts are considered an important landmark in modern judicial systems and a necessary step in the way of juridical development. Their establishment coincides with the complexities of various disputes in our society. Commercial courts have thus become an integral part of our judicial systems.
Some countries have realized the practical need for such a judicial system in settling disputes as smoothly and as expediently as possible. Therefore, they created commercial courts with a body of highly reputed and qualified judges.
In Yemen, the emergence of commercial courts dates back to 1976 when republican decree No. 40/76 was issued by the Command Council of the Republic. This decree called for the establishment of commercial courts in Sanaa, Taiz and Hodeida. It also stipulated that the judge to be appointed in these courts must be a graduate of the college of Law and must have a reasonable judicial experience.
Commercial courts, from the very beginning, were received favorably by the business community. They were expected to tackle disputes decisively and swiftly.
The economic and business boom that the country witnessed during the late 1970s and early 1980s was an additional indicator of the need for commercial courts. They were necessary to meet the rapid growth which came as a result of the influx of foreign capital in the form of banks, insurance companies, joint ventures and trading agencies. This development moved in line with the legislative procedures and laws that were enacted for this purpose, e.g. jurisdiction law, appeal law, commercial law, etc.
But what is the situation like now?
It is regrettable that the answer to this question is not a positive one. Most of the judges appointed in commercial courts do not have the minimum qualifications for the job. This has been clearly reflected in their poor performance due, among other reasons, to their ignorance which has paralyzed these courts.
Therefore, it is time that the government should pay special care in correcting the condition of commercial courts. It should start by appointing judges who can combine the required professional qualifications with a clean record. It is only through such people that these courts can be redeemed from their helpless situation in order to restore their good image. They were once an excellent model for modern jurisprudence in Yemen.
The multi-faceted development that our country now witnesses should be accompanied by the same degree of development in the judicial body in general, and in commercial courts, in particular.
This will help in creating the required atmosphere for investors both local and foreign.
The oft-recurring call that one hears nowadays for judicial reform should draw the government’s attention to include the commercial courts in the reform program.
If you look at the number of cases which involve business disputes, you can appreciate the need for a working commercial court system.
Finally, I cannot but affirm that when I criticize some judges for misconduct, I do not mean to generalize. There exist judges in commercial courts who enjoy a high sense of responsibility, integrity and honesty.