Solution to Arbitrator Impasse Pending, Officials Say

Officials yesterday were tight-lipped about a possible resolution to the impasse between the Commerce Ministry and candidates for Cambodia’s National Arbitration Center who refused to sit for a government-mandated examination last month.

All 54 trainee arbitrators on Sept 4 boycotted two days of testing intended to demonstrate their mastery of the practice of commercial arbitration. The test requirement also exists at other arbitration centers but was not called for by law, causing the candidates to object.

The arbitration center is meant to offer local businesses an alternative to dispute resolution before Cambodia’s courts, which are considered overwhelmed and ill-equipped to handle a caseload that would be both voluminous and complex.

After the failed exam, the Commerce Ministry warned that boycotters could be barred from reapplying in the future but subsequently said little about the dispute.

“We have discussed this matter a few times and I have had appointments with the Commerce Ministry and other senior legal experts to discuss this matter,” said Toek Reth Samrech, secretary of state at the Council of Ministers.

There has been consideration of amendments to the legal texts founding the arbitration center, according to Mr Reth Samrech. However he declined to discuss any details.

“The result could come out next week but I do not know because it depends on legal experts from the Commerce Ministry and the Council of Ministers,” he said.

Ros Monin, a candidate arbitrator and representative of the group, said the trainees’ position had not changed.

“Our stance remains the same and we will continue our boycott,” he said. “It would still be illegal even if the laws were amended to require the examination, because it contradicts the universal principle of law, which does not have retroactivity.”

Candidate arbitrators said last week they planned to submit their applications, regardless of the government’s decision.


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