All 54 candidate arbitrators for the National Arbitration Center boycotted qualifying examinations on Saturday and yesterday, making good on a pledge not to comply with government requirements they say are outside the law.
The would-be arbitrators had promised in recent weeks not to sit for the examinations, which they say are not called for in government regulations adopted last year for the creation of the center.
Though no date for operations has been set, the arbitration center is intended to give local businesses a means of dispute resolution outside the court system, which is widely considered to be incapable of properly handling a high volume of commercial cases.
Candidate arbitrators also said yesterday that they had traveled this weekend to the Royal Academy for the Judicial Professions, where the exam was scheduled to be held, but had not taken the test.
The decision to require the examination was announced in June by Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh.
The Commerce Ministry’s reaction to the boycott was unknown yesterday. However, a ministry official said Thursday that the ministry could adopt rules to require the examinations and bar the boycotting candidates from re-applying in the future.
Government officials and industry representatives have said such examinations are commonplace elsewhere in the world and are necessary to win public confidence in arbitrators.
Lim Chheng, a candidate arbitrator, said yesterday that candidates intended to submit their applications at the Commerce Ministry today, believing that they had met official requirements to apply.
“We don’t have any concern about the application process because we have done it according to the law,” said Mr Chheng. “After the training course, we have to apply for the job.”
“This boycott of the examination is an act to improve the law, essentially,” said Mr Chheng, adding that candidates would take the exams if the government adopted rules to require them.
“If the law is amended with retroactive power, the examination will be legally conducted,” he said.
Mao Thora, secretary of state at the Commerce Ministry, said yesterday he had no reaction yet to the boycott.
“I don’t want to answer today,” he said.