LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial said on Friday the arbitration laws needed to be improved to encourage foreign investment in the country.

He was virtually speaking at a conference titled “Judicial perspectives on domestic and international arbitration in Pakistan” held in Lahore.

The CJP said it would be a great experiment to utilise the arbitration system to resolve disputes of the international companies bringing investment in the country under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said the foreign investigation under the CPEC projects was critical for the economic progress of Pakistan.

Justice Bandial said the alternate dispute resolution system had no room for dismissal of any case on technical grounds whereas a case could be scrapped for a lack of stamp papers in the traditional litigation system. He noted that the traditional litigation needed time and money.

He admitted that the traditional judicial system failed to provide smooth justice due to a huge load of cases. He urged the government to ensure effective legislation on the arbitration system in the country as legal battles at international forums cost the country a lot.

Justice Bandial said political parties, chambers of commerce and regulatory authorities should adopt an arbitration system to resolve their disputes. He said young lawyers, judges of district judiciary and experts should be trained to work under the arbitration system.

He said resolving disputes through an alternate dispute resolution (ADR) system was the need of the hour.

Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah of the Supreme Court said the purpose of the ADR system was to decide the cases without any delay. He said the whole justice system could be reformed by adopting the arbitration system to resolve the disputes. He said the ADR system was a source of dispensing justice in the cheapest and fastest way.

Justice Shah pointed out that at least two million cases of property disputes were pending with courts in the country. He said 4,000 judges were working in the country and each judge had approximately 1,800 cases to decide. “The volume of cases is increasing every day,” he added.

He regretted that it took generations to get a civil case decided from a lower court to the apex court. He said both our religion and the law encouraged arbitration to resolve the disputes. He said it was welcoming that the culture was fast changing and people were being attracted to the ADR system. He said the arbitration had so far been successful in more than 14,000 cases.

The judge also stressed the need for making the existing arbitration laws more effective to encourage people to bring their disputes to the ADR centres instead of traditional courts.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2022

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