The Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia provides that the courts are independent and consist of municipal and provincial courts of the first instance, an Appeals Court, and a Supreme Court.
- Can a foreign investor file suit in Cambodia courts?
Foreigners may file a case in a Cambodian court.
- Do the courts recognize decisions of foreign courts?
Although the Civil Procedure Code allows for this, the enforcement of a foreign court decision by a court in Cambodia would require a bilateral agreement with the foreign country and currently no such bilateral agreements are in place. As such, courts in Cambodia are likely to require re-litigation of the case on its merits rather than enforce a decision issued by a foreign court.
- Are commercial cases heard by the same courts that hear other civil and criminal matters?
The courts currently are not separated as in most civil law countries. As such, a commercial dispute would be heard in the court of the first instance or municipal court, which also tries criminal cases. Cambodia has passed a law to set up a commercial court, but its establishment will take time as the government trains judges and court personnel.
- Are there records of previous decisions of the court and are they binding?
Precedent plays little role in the decisions of the courts in Cambodia, which is a civil law country, and the judgments and reasoning in one case would only be instructive or guiding for a judge hearing similar cases. There is some case law available at this time from the Constitutional Council which is empowered by the Constitution to find if a law is constitutional, and also from Supreme Court.
- What alternative ways are there to resolve disputes? Does Cambodia have a viable arbitration system?
The 2006 Law on Commercial Arbitration is modeled after UNCITRAL. Under the law, National Commercial Arbitration Center (NCAC) has been established, which arbitrates commercial disputes and allows for international arbitrators. Investors are free to arbitrate outside of Cambodia.
- Does the country follow international agreements on recognition of foreign arbitral awards?
At law, foreign arbitration is valid and binding under the laws of Cambodia. Cambodia is a signatory to the 1958 United Nations Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the New York Convention) and has adopted the Law on Approval and Implementation of the United Nations Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (2001). There is precedent for the enforcement of a foreign arbitral award by the court in Cambodia.