There is huge expectation that commercial disputes will be expedited when construction of High Court Commercial Division offices is finalised.
The construction was suspended three years ago as a result of disputes that ensued between government and the contractor, SR Nicholas Construction Company.
Over the years, the Commercial Court has been operating from rented offices at Mpico Building formerly Malawi Development Corporation (MDC) House in Blantyre.
But Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe has given a ray of hope that construction of the court will resume.
He announced in 2016/2017 National Budget Statement delivered in Parliament on Friday that government has set aside K1.5 billion (about $2.2million) towards its construction.
He said the project stalled on account of arrears owed to the contractor, which has since been resolved.
“The matter has been resolved and the allocated amount should finance the completion of the project. This project is fully locally funded,” he said.
Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula said in an interview the move would not only necessitate speedy handling of cases, but also ensure that staff working at the court have enough space.
“Having our own structure would mean that we have our own chambers and courtrooms which would necessitate fast delivery of cases,” he said.
But Mvula said the completion of the court would depend on the availability of resources, saying money allocated for the construction of the court is one thing and making the money available is another.
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) 2015 Business Climate Survey rated the legal environment for private sector to settle commercial disputes as an obstacle to doing business in Malawi.
MCCCI noted that there has been some work towards improving the legal environment since the establishment of the Commercial Court but progress is being hampered by lack of timely handling of the cases to the extent that it becomes costly to pursue cases in court.
Figures from the Judiciary show that between 2010 and 2015, the Commercial Court concluded 1 728 cases out of the 2 057 cases registered in Lilongwe and Blantyre.
The court has three judges in Blantyre and two in Lilongwe.