Boycotting Would-be Arbitrators to Apply Thursday

Arbitrator candidates for the National Arbitration Center plan to submit their final applications to become arbitrators on Thursday only weeks after they boycotted an exam intended to prove their qualifications, candidate representatives said.

The decision to apply flies in the face of the Commerce Ministry’s warning that failing to sit for the arbitration exam could prevent candidates from ever working for the center, an alternative dispute resolution system like that used in other countries to avoid slow pace of the court system. No launch date is set for the center.

“Most of the arbitrators have filled in their forms already and we are going to apply for official registration,” said Ros Monin, a would be arbitrator representing the 54 candidates chosen by the Commerce Ministry in April for arbitrator training.

The exams were announced in June in a move to assure confidence in the center and members of the business community have described them as essential. Similar tests are common for arbitrators in other countries.

Mr Monin said he has received no word from the government about the boycott of the exam and its consequences. He maintained that the exam was not required by law and only created by the ministry after many arbitrators had quit their jobs.

Phan Panha, another potential arbitrator, said several government officials had informed him that Prime Minister Hun Sen had waded into the issue in a response to a letter from Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh.

“The meaning of this directive is to request the legal counsel [at the Council of Ministers] to review the legal aspects and standard of selection among other countries,” he said.

He declined to name the officials and said he did not have a copy of the directive.

Commerce Ministry Secretary of State Mao Thora, who had warned that the government might bar boycotting arbitrators from reapplying, declined to comment.

Stephen Higgins, CEO of ANZ Royal Bank, said he was not surprised that a resolution had not been announced in the arbitrators’ case. But he said any solution had to involve demonstrating the arbitrators’ qualifications.

“Quite simply this has to happen. The business community must have confidence in the arbitrators. So it is essential that they can demonstrate their abilities,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Tim Sturrock)


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