Survey, Focus Group Discussions Identify Training Needs for Special Commercial Court Judges

May 2012

For five years, Philippine special commercial court (SCC) judges had not received any commercial law training. As a result, some of them may have been failing to correctly apply commercial laws, risking administrative sanctions. To alleviate the situation, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) and the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA)—with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development—are lending a helping hand.

Judge Rowena Modesto-San Pedro, a 2011 Judicial Excellence Awardee, presents results of a Training Needs Assessment that identified major concerns of special commercial court  judges.

Judge Rowena Modesto-San Pedro, a 2011 Judicial Excellence Awardee, presents results of a Training Needs Assessment that identified major concerns of special commercial court  judges.

In February, 30 SCC judges from across the country took part in a survey ABA ROLI developed to assess the judges’ most critical challenges and to identify their training needs. On April 10, 15 of those who participated in the survey gathered in Manila for a follow-up focus group discussion. They reviewed survey results, prioritizing the training needs. Divided into smaller groups, participants discussed different areas of commercial law, identifying training needs related to the Anti-Money Laundering Act and the timelines and procedural rules for corporate rehabilitation cases and inter-corporation disputes.

Participants agreed that new laws and rules, including the 2010 Financial Rehabilitation and Insolvency Act and the 2011 Rules of Procedure for Intellectual Property Rights Cases, have changed the commercial law landscape. They said that training is essential to ensure competent resolution of commercial disputes and to assure investors that these disputes can be efficiently resolved. Dr. Cheselden George V. Carmona of PHILJA’s Department of Commercial Law said, “Unless investors are confident that they will be amply protected by our legal system, they will not invest in the country.” He reminded participants that their work “as special commercial court judges gives these guarantees.”

ABA ROLI and PHILJA will begin to provide trainings on priority areas identified through the survey and focus group discussions in late May. Additionally, the Department of Trade and Industry’s Intellectual Property Office will provide seminars on the Rules of Procedure for Intellectual Property Rights Cases

To learn more about our work in the Philippines, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org

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