JUSTICE Syed Mansoor Ali Shah (of the Supreme Court) has said Pakistan urgently needs a smart, time-effective and functioning Alternative Disputes Resolution (ADR) judicial mechanism to resolve tens of thousands of civil disputes, including investment and commercial deals.
He was speaking alongside Lahore High Court’s Justice Jawaad Hassan at a moot on the subject organized by the Pakistan Branch of Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb).
The moot was, indeed, a laudable initiative as it highlighted how strengthening ADR can improve inward investor confidence; building an international arbitration community to deal with cases in ICSID, LCIA and other institutional arbitrations; and to promote messages of judicial support for inward investment and highlighting the commercial court’s initiative, overseas Pakistanis courts initiative and planning new arbitration regime.
The establishment of arbitration courts by Pakistan has helped the country economically as is evident from the fact that remittances from overseas Pakistanis sent until 2019 stood at only about US$19 billion, but after the establishment of these courts the remittances have now reached the figure of US$32 billion.
It is encouraging that Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, who represented the Government, held out an assurance that the coalition government was open to all kinds of assistance to the judiciary to take forward the reform agenda and to enhance the capacity of arbitration courts.
However, it may be pointed out that the conference focused on commercial arbitration while there was an urgent need to have a proper ADR to save time and money of the litigants and lessen burden on courts.
The necessity of ADR is highlighted by the fact that Pakistan’s superior courts have a backlog of around 2.2 million cases and there are only about 4,000 judges to deal with these cases.
We have been hearing since long both from the leadership of the successive governments and judiciary about the need to have an ADR system at the grassroots but regrettably no worthwhile move has been made towards this end.
The current government has limited time but it can still make substantial contribution to this cherished objective.