Commercial litigation in Egypt concerns all legal claims arising from conduct of traders. The Egyptian Commercial Code No. 17 of the year 1999 defines traders in Article 10 as follows: “The following shall be a trader: 1- Whoever exercises by way of profession, in his name or for his own account, a commercial activity. 2- Each firm assumes one of the forms prescribed in the laws concerning the companies, whatever the purpose for which the firm is established”.
Claims related to any commercial matter are subject to many important Laws such as the Commercial Code, Special Economic Courts Code No. 120 of the year 2008 and its amendments, Civil and Commercial Procedures Code No.13 of the year 1968, Companies Law No.159 of the year 1981, Investment Law No. 72 of the year 2017 and Egyptian Civil Code No 131 of the year 1948.
The said claims shall be filed before ordinary commercial courts except for the claims that are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of special economic courts in the following matters as mentioned in Code No. 120 of the year 2008 coinage and counterfeiting offenses included in the penal code;
- Insurance control and supervision laws;
- Companies’ law;
- Capital markets law;
- Financial leasing and factoring law;
- Central depository and registry for securities law;
- Real estate finance law;
- Intellectual property rights protection law;
- Central bank and banking system law;
- Investment fund law;
- Restructuring and bankruptcy law;
- Anti-dumping law;
- Anti-trust law;
- Consumer protection law;
- Telecommunications law; and
- Electronic signatures and the establishment of the information technology industry development authority law.
Egypt Law No. 146 of the year 2019 regarding amending some provisions of the Special Economic Courts Code No. 120 of the year 2008 expanded the jurisdiction of the primary chambers in economic courts to include crimes arising from the following laws:
- Anti-money laundering law;
- Movable collateral law;
- Microfinance law;
- Cyber-crimes law; and
- Bankruptcy law.
In addition, Egypt Law No. 146 of the year 2019 expanded the jurisdiction of first instance economic courts concerning non-criminal disputes, values of which do not exceed EGP 10 Million, and arising from the application of the following:
- Maritime trade law;
- Civil aviation law;
- Consumer protection law;
- Movable collateral law;
- Law on special economic zones;
- Microfinance law; and
- Cyber crimes law.
Egypt Law No. 146 of the year 2019 also raised the minimum values for first instance and appeals chambers in the Egyptian Economic Court “EEC’. First instance chambers are now competent to hear cases value of which does not exceed EGP 10 Million up from EGP 5 Million, while the appeals chambers became competent to hear cases with value exceeding EGP 10 Million. It is worth noting that first instance chambers have exclusive jurisdiction over disputes related to Egypt Law No 11 of the year 2018 regulating restructuring, preventive composition and bankruptcy.
According to Egyptian the Civil and Commercial Procedures Law No.13 of the year 1986, which is the law that regulates all the procedures that should be followed before the court in any commercial dispute. Moreover, commercial disputes of all amounts may be brought before ordinary commercial courts, whether primary courts or courts of appeal, depending on the value of the dispute. The Court of First Instance has jurisdiction to adjudicate cases with a maximum value of EGP 100,000 in addition to other specific cases, while the Court of Appeal has jurisdiction to adjudicate cases with a value of more than EGP 100,000 as well as adjudicating appeals from rulings issued by the courts of first instance if the value of the said judgement exceeds 15,000 pounds. The value of a contractual dispute in general is the consideration of the contract.
These claims can be brought before courts by warning the other party and requesting them to perform their commercial obligations within a reasonable period; if not performed, the claimant may file a claim by simply submitting a statement of claim to the commercial competent court, which shall have a full description of the claim including the parties’ information, the reason for the claim, the claimant’s request and finally the legal basis for that request. These steps shall be done without prejudice to the provisions of Civil and Commercial Procedures Code No.13 of the year 1968.
Moreover, Articles 42, 47, 48, 49, 55, and 56 of the Civil and Commercial Procedures Law defined the court system and the jurisdiction of courts in civil and commercial cases as follows:
Article 42: The Court of Partial Articles shall have jurisdiction in first instance judgement in civil and commercial cases value of which does not exceed one hundred thousand pounds, and its judgement shall be final if the value of the case does not exceed fifteen thousand pounds. This is without prejudice to the court of first instance’s other jurisdiction stipulated in the law.
Article 47: The Court of First Instance has jurisdiction over all civil and commercial lawsuits that are not within the jurisdiction of the Partial Court, and its judgement is final if the value of the lawsuit does not exceed one hundred thousand pounds. It is also concerned with adjudicating cases of appeal that are brought before it for judgements issued in the first instance by the Partial Court or the summary matters judge. It is also concerned with adjudicating temporary or urgent applications and all other incidental applications, as well as applications related to the original application, regardless of its value or type.
Article 48: The Court of Appeal shall have the power to adjudicate in appeal cases upon judgements rendered initially by the courts of first instance as well as the judgements rendered by the district courts in the cases stipulated in paragraph 6 of Article 43 of this law.
Article 49: The competent court shall be that with local jurisdiction over the place of the defendant’s domicile unless the law provides otherwise.
Article 55: In commercial matters, the competent court shall be the court where the domicile of the defendant lies or the court in the place where the agreement has been entered into and executed wholly or partially or the court in the place where the agreement must be executed.
Article 56: In disputes relating to the supply, construction, rent of houses, wages of workers and manufacturers, the competent court shall be the court where the domicile of the defendant lies or the court in the place where the agreement has been entered into and executed provided that it is the same as that of the plaintiff’s domicile.
Regarding the court fees, Article 184 of the Civil and Commercial Procedures Law states that, the court, upon awarding the judgement ending the dispute, shall decide on its own behalf the expenses of the case and these expenses shall be paid by the convicted opponent and the lawyer fees shall be included therein.
Consequently, the litigation fees are not a fixed amount and lawyers feel free to set their own fees which may be a part from the success fees.
The court obliges the unsuccessful party to pay court fees which are a certain percentage of the final judgement.