With the promulgation of Punjab Commercial Courts Ordinance 2021, the legislature has sought to provide an expedited mechanism of resolution of commercial disputes, preferably within 6 months. To further streamline the process and check delayed decisions, the defendants cannot insist for a trial as of right and are required to show that their defense raises substantial questions of law or fact (or both) in order to be allowed to defend the claim, failing which judgment in favor of the plaintiff shall follow without further proceeding.
However, it is to be noted that when it comes to foreign companies or firms, the commercial courts can only hear matters brought by or against:
‘a company or body corporate incorporated outside Pakistan, which has a place of business or liaison office in Pakistan whether by itself or through an agent, physically or through electronic mode’
It, therefore, appears that foreign businesses seeking expeditious decision of their contractual or commercial disputes with local businesses would be required to have a place of business or liaison office in Pakistan, which could be ‘through electronic mode’. While there is no guidance available yet, it would appear that such office would have to be in place before the arising of cause of action in favor of the foreign company on strength whereof it wishes to file proceedings before the commercial court.
Meer & Hasan, a leading general practice law firm in Pakistan is offering its clients a service to establish a liaison office in Pakistan through electronic mode. The annual cost for this will be US $ 500. However, no fee will be charged from those who use this service through an ELA member firm.