With a professional examination set to be held this weekend, candidate arbitrators for Cambodia’s planned National Arbitration Center met with officials at the International Finance Corporation yesterday, maintaining a threat to boycott the test which they say is not legally required.
The planned arbitration center, for which no start date has been set, is intended to resolve business disputes outside the court system, which is deemed to be ill-equipped to handle them.
Candidate arbitrators have shown reluctance to take the exam, as they say that the law on arbitration does not require them to do so. However, those in charge of establishing the center say a written test for arbitrators will help bolster public confidence.
Candidates said yesterday that if there were no legal resolution, they would boycott the exam, which is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the Royal Academy for the Judicial Professions in Chamkar Mon district.
“We told the IFC that there is no legal resolution. We will not accept to sit the examination,” said Seng Vuoch Hun, a prospective arbitrator representing all of the NAC’s 54 candidates, who was present at yesterday’s meeting at IFC’s Phnom Penh offices.
She said that IFC officials had admitted during yesterday’s meeting that the exam was not a legal requirement but was nevertheless commonplace elsewhere.
Elsewhere, an examination for arbitrators is common. at the Singapore International Arbitration Center applicants must have passed two such exams before their applications will even be considered.
Officials at the IFC, which is assisting the government with the NAC’s establishment, declined to comment.
Mao Thora, secretary of state of the Ministry of Commerce, said that if candidates boycott Saturday’s exam, the government would amend the law so that the examination becomes a legal requirement.
He also said that if the boycott goes ahead, the existing candidates would probably not be reconsidered in the future for an arbitrator position.
“After the amendment of the sub-decree there will be a new selection and all of the current candidates will not be allowed to take part,” he said. “But it all depends on the Minister’s decision.”
(Additional reporting by Simon Marks)