The Rwanda Commercial Courts, which started operations in May last year, have cleared a total of 4,737 commercial disputes, leaving 1,254 backlog cases pending countrywide as of July this year, according to official statistics.
The cleared cases represent 79 percent of the 5,991 recorded commercial disputes since the establishment of commercial courts. The 21 percent of pending cases has been attributed to the limited number of commercial judges in the country.
“We put much emphasis in clearing the backlog cases which were 3,333 in total,” said Benoît Gatete, the Vice President of Commercial High Court.
Official statistics also reveal that the High Commercial Court (HCC) has cleared 496 of 1,161 cases recorded. This means that the high court cleared on 43 percent with 57 percent of cases pending.
“There are only three judges of the required eight,” Gatete said.Cases in the high court accumulate depending on appeals from the district courts and disputes involving amounts above Rwf20 million.
Just like the concentration of businesses in Rwanda, Nyarugenge Court received the highest number of commercial cases.
The Kigali City based court had 3,288 cases. However, 2778 cases have been cleared representing 84.5 percent clearance.
Huye district in Southern Province and Musanze district in the Northern Province have the least with 43 and 36 pending cases respectively.
Despite the better performance in a period of barely a year of existence, Gatete said that the duration of handling cases needs to reduce with time.
“At maximum, we target at least three months of case handling from the current four months,” he estimated.
The specialised commercial courts were set up as a doing business reform aimed at attracting more foreign investors. Before their establishment, trade related cases were heard by ordinary courts.
The courts were set up with over $2 million from the Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF), a private-public partnership focused on improving the continent’s investment climate by removing obstacles to domestic and foreign investment and promoting Africa as an attractive investment destination.
This was also boosted when government approved major laws including the law of contract, insolvency law and the company law.
Gatete said banking, taxation and insurance have the highest number of case in record.