Reforms relative to enforcing contracts

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Reforms relative to enforcing contracts

 

Compared to some years ago when it was one of the lowest rankers under the Doing Business’ Enforcing Contracts indicator, Togo, leveraging many efforts to improve its business climate, was able to jump significantly on the index in the recent years.

 

Operationalization of commercial courts

Earlier this year, the regulation of Togo’s commercial courts was reinforced with a new amendment that monitors delays for processing cases. The courts, let it be recalled, are operational since February 2019 and were created under a presidential decree.

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New cases are automatically, and randomly, assigned to the different judges of Lomé’s commercial court

Since December 2019, the timetable for the assignation of new cases has been managed automatically, thus eliminating the need for the Court’s president to intervene.

The cases are assigned to judges through an automated software requiring no human intervention. This means presiding judges are picked randomly via this software, a week before the case they are to preside. Once picked, the judge immediately gets a mail notification.

The automated assignation of cases to judges is also based on criteria that leave no room for manipulation, previsibility, or anticipation. Result: More transparency and neutrality in the handling of cases at the Commercial Court of Lomé.

 

New innovative measures

The institution of a preparatory investigation where new cases are discussed in commercial courts: At the start of every hearing, the Court holds a preparatory meeting for new cases during which issues related to competence and others related to the procedure are settled. On the same occasion, parties involved are asked if they wish to settle their conflict using any other alternative method; evidence is verified, and the various stages of the hearing are planned. Since this reform was introduced by the commercial court of Lomé, more than 200 cases were subjected to a preparatory investigation.

Result: More control over the trials’ timetable and faster judgement delivery.

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Other achievements recorded include the regulation of the maximum number of times a hearing can be adjourned,  the respect of rules regulating adjournments in most cases depending on gathered information, or the restriction of adjournments to only unexpected or exceptional situations.

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Establishment of laws defining deadlines to process cases

In January 2020, laws enabling new actions during the first hearing, the submission of a defense statement, the finalization of the evidence assessment procedure or the delivery of the final judgement.   

 

Compliance with deadlines set for processing cases

Based on available data and processing deadlines published on the court’s official website, delays for resolving cases are met for the most part. Result: The average number of days needed to process cases has fallen to 71 days and the rate of case resolved has increased to 84%

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Establishment of financial measures to encourage litigants to resolve conflicts through conciliation, arbitration, and mediation

In the event where parties involved agree to settling their dispute through an alternative case settlement mode, the plaintiff can recover part of their registration fee, as stated under article 20, paragraph. 7 of the law n°2020-002. This incentive aims to encourage parties involved to opt for alternative settlement methods, and subsequently resolve commercial disputes more rapidly.

A The recoverable quota is half of the paid amount

This decree states that the recoverable quota is half of the initial payment. It also provides modalities for reimbursement.

 

The chamber for minor commercial disputes is operational: Implementation of special procedures

Processes at the chamber for minor commercial disputes have been simplified, as compared to the ordinary chamber. First of all, the former rules cases both at the first and last instances whereas the latter does only at first instance. Next, the number of times cases can be adjourned at the chamber in charge of minor commercial disputes is set to two (2), against three (3) for the ordinary chamber/The chamber of minor conflicts, starting from the day it gets hold of a case, gives a maximum of 15 days to the defendant to provide claims and pleas; this is against 22 days for the ordinary chamber/ Pretrial stage for minor disputes may not exceed forty three (43) days, against sixty four (64) days for ordinary cases/ For ordinary cases, the final judgement is issued within twenty two (22) days, starting from the day the case is submitted to the jury for deliberation, but this takes, at most, fifteen (15) days for minor disputes/ Maximum period to close minor conflicts may not exceed sixty five (65) days, starting from the day the case is filed, against hundred (100) days for ordinary cases/ Registration fees for minor cases have been reduced to XOF9,000, against XOF20,000 for ordinary cases.   

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Moreover, litigants can self-represent in minor disputes courts, without a lawyer. Result: Substantial time gain in processing minor dispute lawsuits.

In addition to these, annual reports on the legal system are made available to the public.

 

Automatization of the commercial court

The commercial court of Lomé is equipped with an automated IT system handling all conflicts. It is called FORSETI COMMERCIAL.

The system has integrated digital platforms that enable the dematerialization, to  great extent, of procedures at the commercial court of Lomé (submission of initial claim or subpoena issuance, payment of legal fees, issuance of court decisions, etc.). The commercial court’s website (http://tribunaldecommercedelome.tg/) has multiple functions that are updated automatically and frequently.

From March 2019, filing of the original complaint or referral is done digitally, through the online referral platform of the Commercial Court of Lomé.

To reinforce the reform related to online referral and urge lawyers who still do not comply with the amendment, the president of the Commercial Court of Lomé, has issued on October 14, 2019 an  order that forbids the production of subpoenas and other documents attached to digitally submitted subpoenas during hearings.

Also, legal expenses are paid digitally via a dedicated platform, since March 2019 as well.  Fees for the online registration of subpoenas are also paid digitally. At the end of October 2019, options enabling the payment of all other legal charges incurred in commercial disputes (application fees for order requests, fees for judgement copies, fees for transportation to the court) have been added to the online referral platform.

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Formalities and operations carried out by magistrates and lawyers

The automated system for managing commercial disputes also allows judges to refer to laws,  regulations and jurisprudence, automatically schedule hearings for filed lawsuits, send notifications to lawyers (via mail for example), monitor their cases, consult and manage procedural acts (closing, request), easily  draft their decisions, issue order semi-automatically, publish orders and judgements related to specific cases. 

As for lawyers, this system allows them to consult laws, regulations and jurisprudence, access forms that are to submitted to the court, receive notifications, follow up lawsuits (online or via SMS), publish and manage case documents (briefs and motions), or submit them to the court, and also check orders and legal decisions relative to a specific case.

These helped streamline and reduce proceedings as well as connect litigants and commercial courts through the online referral platform.

In fact, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the chairman of the commercial court has issued on March 26, 2020, a public notice making compulsory the use of the automated system for handling all cases.

 

Publication of all commercial decisions to all jurisdictions online

Finally, trade-related decisions taken by the Supreme court of Togo and Lomé’s Court of Appeal, as well as the rulings of the Commercial Court of Lomé can be accessed freely on the latter’s website.  A link gives access to the jurisprudence of the Joint Court of Justice and Arbitrage (CCJA). Decisions taken by the Court and the Appeal Court are regularly released, on a quarterly basis, while those of the Supreme Court are published annually as they are scarcer due to most appeals being filed in cassation.

Decisions of the Supreme Court

Decisions of the Appeal Court of Lomé

Decisions of the Commercial Court

OHADA laws

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REFORMS OVERVIEW

 

 

 

 

STARTING A BUSINESS (more info)

At the fifteenth position, worldwide, and first in Africa, under the Starting a Business index of the 2020 Doing Business ranking, Togo sustains its reformative dynamics with more reforms….

 

ENFORCING CONTRACTS (more info)

Compared to some years ago when it was one of the lowest rankers under the Doing Business’ Enforcing Contracts indicator, Togo, leveraging many efforts to improve its business climate, was able to jump significantly on the index in the recent years... .

CONTRACT EXECUTION (more info)

Creation of special chambers of commerce for small debts  • Creation of chambers of commerce at the Court of Appeal  • Civil and commercial cases now handled by distinct clerks  • Establishment of commercial courts in Lomé and Kara  • Lawyers and bailiffs now have access to the FORSETI COMMERCIAL platform • A maximum period of 100 days was fixed to settle a commercial dispute .

 

TRADING ACROSS BORDERS (more info)

In comparison to previous years,Togo has significantly improved its ranking under the“Trading across borders” indicator by adopting multiple reforms that focus mainly on the digitization and reduction in delays, for import and export procedures related to import and export.

In comparison to previous years, Togo has significantly improved its ranking on the “Trading across borders” index by adopting multiple reforms that focus mainly on the digitalization and reduction in delays, for import and export procedures related to import and export.

 

CONSTRUCTION PERMIT (more info)

After moving from the 133rd to 127th place under the 2020 Doing Business’ construction permit index, Togo intends to reiterate this feat in the coming edition of the global ranking. To this end, it has introduced this year multiple reforms.

 

GETTING ELECTRICITY (more info)

Over the past two years, Togo’s ranking under the Doing Business’ Getting electricity and water indicator has increased consistently. Owing this performance to multiple reforms aimed at making it easier for businesses to access power and water, Lomé plans to introduce even more reforms this year to keep up its improvements.

 

REGISTERING A PROPERTY  (more info)

Out of all the 'Doing Business’ indicators, Property Registration is where Togo has improved the most since 2018. Indeed, after spending years in the lowest part of this ranking, the country now seeks to beat Rwanda which is the best performer on this index in Africa. To do so, Lomé has been introducing many reforms, with the latest batch implemented this year.

 

PUBLIC PROCUREMENT (more info)

From professionalization to digitization, through legislative regulations, Togo’s public procurement framework is constantly being modernized. Several reforms have been implemented to improve the sector much to the benefit of the private sector, which is the focus of the National Development Plan.

 

PAYING TAXES AND DUTIES (more info)

To improve its business environment, Togo introduced some important reforms related to the payment of tax and duties. From the replacement of some taxes to the cancellation of others through exemptions, the country has only one objective: offer the most attractive tax framework to investors and economic operators. To achieve this, the authorities relied on digitization.

 

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