OBJECTIVES OF COMMERCIAL COURTS - LHC

Efficient contract enforcement is essential to economic development and sustained growth of a country. An efficient judicial system can improve the overall business climate, foster innovation, attract foreign direct investment and secure tax revenues. Economies having more effective judiciary, in which courts can meritoriously enforce contractual obligations, have more developed credit markets and a higher level of development. Doing Business is a flagship report of the World Bank Group. In this report, globally 190 economies are ranked on their ease of doing business for an overall ten indicators, including, Enforcing Contracts. For Enforcing Contracts indicator, Doing Business measures the time and cost for resolving a commercial dispute through a local first-instance court and the quality of judicial processes index, evaluating whether each economy has adopted a series of good practices that promote quality and efficiency in the court system.

In past, Pakistan struggled with weak contract enforcement due to a variety of reasons. The Lahore High Court, under the guidance of the then Hon’ble Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan and Mr. Justice Jawad Hassan led the initiative on designating learned Judicial Officers in civil courts to adjudicate commercial cases vide notification dated 28th of April, 2020. There remained unprecedented support and contribution of the Hon’ble Mr. Justice Shahid Waheed, the Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, the Hon’ble Mr. Justice Shahid Karim and the Hon’ble Mr. Justice Jawad Hassan qua training of Commercial Courts Judges and developing e-filing and e-process serving mechanism for the Commercial Courts.

According to the latest ease of doing business (DB) ratings Pakistan is overall ranked at No.108 among 190 economies and holds 156th position on the ‘enforcing contracts’ indicator. As per the DB reports, during the last decade, enforcing contracts has not been a subject-matter of business reforms in Pakistan. The Hon’ble Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti has the vision to see the Commercial Courts as a Global centre for business and finance, connecting the economies of the South Asia.

While obtaining guidance from Chapter-1, Part-K, Rules 10 & 11, Vol-I of the High Court Rules & Orders, on 28 April, 2020, Lahore High Court notified in this backdrop one Additional District Judge and two Civil Judges at Lahore to exclusively adjudicate Commercial Cases. Similarly, through the same notification one additional District Judge and one civil Judge in four other districts namely, Multan, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala and Faisalabad were also designated to adjudicate such cases.

Accordingly, for capacity building of designated judicial Officers Seven days training (7th September, 2020 to 13th September, 2020) was held at the Punjab Judicial Academy (PJA) in collaboration with P&DB, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (the World Bank) and Lahore High Court. The Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice Gulzar Ahmed graced the occasion of concluding ceremony of the training program as the Chief guest and appreciated the efforts of Lahore High Court to designate Judicial Officers to adjudicate the commercial cases and also to ensure their training to equip them with latest laws and jurisprudence developed about commercial laws in Pakistan and across the world. His Lordship said the judges need to be trained to become expert and they have to be provided with all requisite facilities. The Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan emphasised to establish dedicated, well-structured commercial courts all over the Pakistan. The Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and the Hon’ble Mr. Justice Amin-Ud-Din Khan, the Hon’ble Judges of august Supreme Court of Pakistan also joined the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan in this event. The ceremony was attended by the Hon’ble Judges of this Court, eminent lawyers, top bureaucracy of the province, media men and respectable members of Civil society.

Before the promulgation of the Punjab Commercial Courts Ordinance, 2021 through a Judgment cited as 2021 CLD 639 rendered in commonly known ‘Pizza Hut Case’ the Hon’ble Mr. Justice Jawad Hassan described at length the significance of establishing Commercial Courts and the objects of designating judges for Commercial Courts in Punjab.

Realising the need of specialized law about the establishment of Commercial Courts and expeditious decisions of cases relating to business and investment in Punjab, on 13th April, 2021 Gazette notification of the Punjab Commercial Courts Ordinance, 2021 was issued. After promulgation of the Ordinance, 2021, in collaboration with the P&DB four days training program of 45 Additional District & Sessions Judges was held at the Punjab Judicial Academy from 07-06-2021 to 10.06.21.

Under the Punjab Commercial Courts ordinance 2021 first commercial court in Punjab was inaugurated on 5th of June, 2021 in Lahore by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice Gulzar Ahmed. During the inaugural ceremony the then Hon’ble Chief Justice Mr. Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan and the Hon’ble incumbent Chief Justice Mr. Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti, Mr. Justice Shahid Karim and Mr. Justice Jawad Hassan were also present.

Another significant development after the promulgation of the Ordinance was the allocation of funds in the annual Development Program (ADP) of FY 2021-2 by the Punjab Government to be channelized through PC-I for all activities and components of the project of establishing Commercial Courts including infrastructural support (renovation of commercial Courts, furniture & fixture, IT equipment including software & hardware), foreign and local trainings and capacity building of Commercial Courts Judges, conducting Workshops / Seminars/Road Shows, provision of books, online journals etc. for Libraries to be established for commercial Courts Judges and appointments of Law Clerks for these Courts.

According to Rules of Business of Punjab, Industries department is the administrative department on the subject of Commercial Courts; hence the department has laid the ordinance before the legislative Assembly, Punjab for enacment after necessary amendments.

With the unprecedented support of the Hon’ble Chief Justice Mr. Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti the present team on Commercial Courts comprising of the Hon’ble Mr. Justice Shujaat Ali Khan, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Shahid Karim and Mr. Justice Jawad Hassan is doing the needful under the ‘enforcing contracts’ indicator of Ease of Doing Business’. More information on this indicator can be obtained here: https://www.doingbusiness.org/en/methodology/enforcing-contracts.

 
The Hon'ble Chief Justice
Mr. Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti

 

 
Mr. Justice Shujaat Ali Khan
Admin Judge Commercial Courts (Since July 10, 2021)

 

 

The Hon'ble Judges adjudicating Commercial Cases in Lahore High Court, Lahore

 

 
Mr. Justice Shujaat Ali Khan
(Commercial Matters)

 

 
Mr. Justice Shahid Karim
(Commercial Matters)

 

 
Mr. Justice Jawad Hassan
(Constitutional, Commercial & Foreign Awards Matters)

 

 

 

Commericial Courts in Punjab

 

 

 

Office Bearers

 

Registrar
Lahore High Court
Mr. Irfan Ahmad Saeed, D&SJ

 

Director General
Directorate of District Judiciary - LHC
Mr. Masood Arshad, D&SJ