In a ceremony attended by senior judges, prosecutors and judicial officials, Iraq’s most senior judge pronounced the new court, the first of its kind in Iraq, open and announced plans to build similar ones in the country’s two other main cities, Mosul and Basra.
“Establishing this court strengthens the judiciary and makes it more specialised, and it also encourages investment into Iraq,” said Medhat al-Mahmud, the head of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).
The court will deal exclusively with legal disputes between foreign investors and Iraqi entities, whether they be the government or private-sector firms, according to SJC spokesman Abdul-Sattar Bayraqdar.
“The purpose of this is to encourage foreign investors that there are laws in Iraq that will protect their interests,” he told AFP.
The World Bank ranked Iraq 166th out of 183 countries in its “Doing Business 2011” survey of the ease of doing business around the world, the worst ranking of any country in the Middle East.
In particular, Iraq ranked 120th globally in terms of “protecting investors” and 141st in “enforcing contracts”. The World Bank scored it 4.3 out of 10 on its “strength of investor protection index”.
The survey notes that court proceedings to enforce contracts in Iraq require 51 procedures taking an average of 520 days. By contrast, Singapore, which topped the global ranking, requires 13 procedures which take 150 days.