The long-awaited National Arbitration Center, for settling commercial disputes, is finally taking shape. According to recent statements by government ministers, the NAC is scheduled to open by the end of this year.

Resolving a dispute through the court system can be a long and expensive process. The World Bank estimates it takes on average 401 days at a cost of 103% of the value of a debt in order to enforce a commercial contract. The NAC will offer parties to a commercial contract an alternative venue, which hopefully will be swifter and more efficient.

In preparation, the Cambodian government passed a Law on Commercial Arbitration in 2006 based on UN guidelines and a further sub-decree last July to establish its structure. The NAC will be supported by the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, for its first three years. During that time it will be run by the Ministry of Commerce, but the goal is to establish the reputation and capacity of the NAC so that it can be spun off as an independent, non-profit, entity.

A recent news article about the training of NAC staff can be found here, and the text of the Arbitration Law here.