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The Judiciary Specialized in Food: Empowerment of Investor and Protection of Consumer

In cooperation with East Amman Investors’ Industrial Society, Local Enterprise Support Project (LENS) and Center for International Private Enterprises (CIPE), Al-Quds Center for Political Studies held a workshop entitled: “The Judiciary Specialized in Food…Empowerment of Investor and Protection of Consumer”. The workshop was held on Saturday 28 April 2018 at the Kempinski Hotel – Amman.

The workshop explored the possibility of establishing a court specialized in food or at least providing judges specialized in food in order to improve the investment environment and enhance the rule of law. The workshop aimed, as well, at strengthening the national dialogue between the decision makers and business associations for the sake of improving the organizational and legislative environment for medium, small and micro enterprises.

The workshop comprised of two sessions: an opening session to welcome the participants and introduce the agenda and goal of the workshop. The Executive Director of AlQuds Center – Ms. Hala Salem and Dr. Eyad Abu Haltam – Chairman of the East Amman Investors’ Industrial Society spoke in this session.

In the main session of the workshop, the Director General of Food and Drug Corporation – Dr. Hayel Obeidat, Director of Planning and Development at the Judicial Council – Judge Ali Musaimi, and Director of the Market Monitoring Directorate at the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Supply – Mr. Ali Talafha all spoke during this session followed by the Consultant  of the East Amman Investors’ Industrial Society, the former Director of Food Department at the Public Corporation of Food and Drug, and Mr. Zakaria Al-Fakih- member of the Executive Committee of the Sociaty spoke during the session.

Former Parliamentarian Agricultural Engineer Mr. Samir Oweis moderated the workshop  which witnessed the presence of 47 participants as follows:

-   Participants from governmental agencies: 5 people

-   Participants from industrialists and traders of foodstuff: 29 people

-   Lawyers, business associations and parties: 13 people

Highlights of Interventions by Dr. Hayel Obeidat  and Judge Ali Musaimi:

- Dr. Obeidat: He reiterated the importance of food at the economic level and pointed out that the foodstuff exportation realizes JD 2.1 billion against importation of JD 2.4 billion. He stressed the importance of specialized judiciary in this domain and the need to have a judicial chamber. He mentioned that the extension of judicial chambers with an eye on specialty and training of judges who must go on training courses largely contributes to the protection of rights and justice delivery as well as protection from dominance of influential figures as well as preventing abuse and blackmailing.

Judge Ali Musaimi: He stressed the importance of specialization in all science branches as the judiciary is one of such branches and must have specialized professionals to facilitate knowledge of details. He pointed out that specialization in the judiciary is, particularly, important as it deals with all domains and a well-trained judge will contribute to justice delivery and enforcement of law.

He mentioned that there is a plan of action underway to enhance specialized judiciary in order to deliver effective justice, prompt litigation, and achieving a competent and efficient judicial authority. He mentioned that there are several factors that need to be accounted for when considering a specialized judiciary such as:

-  Capacities, potentials, infrastructure and number of judges and their assistants.

-  The availability of a database that clarifies number of cases, jurisdiction and need for a specialized judiciary in a certain field.

-   The economic burden and return for a specialized judiciary.

Conclusions and Outcomes:

The workshop stressed that a food specialized judiciary is a crucial element especially in light of the following facts:

  1. About 40% of a family income goes to fulfill its need for food. Jordan imports about 84% of its need of food.
  2. A specialized judiciary will contribute to sustainability of micro and small businesses engaged in food manufacturing; 1800 factories with a total manpower of 47 thousand people.
  3. A specialized judiciary will help remove impediments that hinder the operation of such enterprises  as they fall under many pressures and hurdles that can reach blackmailing due to the multiple oversight agencies. Moreover, enterprises engaged in food manufacturing are fragile to rumors about their operation and their products.
  4. A judiciary specialized in food can help assure the citizens of the food safety and this must positively show in the tourism sector, investor’s trust, and improved business environment.
  5. The advanced food technology requires further knowledge and specialization in this domain. A specialized judiciary will, surely, help achievement of justice at an optimal level.
  6. A judiciary specialized in food helps prompt decision making and adjudication of many cases that if delayed can result in aggravated losses for the investor.

 A Roadmap for a Project of Judiciary Specialized in Food:

The workshop revealed that focusing on a specialized judiciary is one of the recommendations in the discussion papers on the judicial reform by His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein.

There are several options available for a judiciary specialized in food:

-Create a court specialized in food; which requires a special law to be enacted for this purpose.

- Create a judicial chamber at the regular courts. This falls within the mandate of the Judicial Council. It only requires the availability of some criteria such as a certain volume of lawsuits with regard to food being considered at courts. Verifying the distribution of food cases at courts in governorates must be verified, though.

- Training of judges and enhancing their knowledge of food cases. More importantly, technical consultants must be made available to assist judges in making just and fair verdicts.

Introducing a Judiciary Specialized in Food Requires:

-  Identification of the laws that can overlap with the law of food such as the laws of companies and insurance…etc.

- Provision of an updated database including the number of lawsuits, their degrees, and jurisdiction where they are concentrated. For, this will help identify to which extent there is need for a judiciary specialized in food.

-Consideration of capacities and potentials taking into consideration the economic burdens and gains resulting from implementing such a judiciary.

-Training and qualification of judges by independent agencies specialized in this field.

-Availing consultancy and technical experiences by means of working with associations, chambers of industry and trade that must assume a role in supplying the technical and consultancy competencies.

-Control the consultancy part according to parameters that can help identify “an expert” and who can be called as such!

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