Helping to Modernize and Improve Transparency of the Economics Courts in Egypt
In Egypt, the public perceives the legal system, including the Economic Courts (hereafter, Courts), as inefficient. The Courts are a crucial institution for resolving high-profile and everyday commercial cases and increasing the confidence of foreign investors. However, they face a lack of access to information and a need to improve transparency and advance human capacity. Despite these areas for needed improvement, there is also resistance to change, considering the sensitive issues of transparency and gender equity in the legal system.
The Government of Egypt envisions improved government efficiency and transparency through increased automation and e-services, human development and staff training for judges, senior court management and clerical staff, social inclusion, and the development of systems as laid out in its Vision 2030 Sustainable Development Strategy. To support that vision, MSI is implementing the USAID-funded Economic Courts Activity, a five-year program that works in eight Egyptian governorates: Cairo, Alexandria, Ismailia, Tanta, Mansoura, Beni Suef, Assiut and Qena.
We work with the Ministry of Justice to implement reform efforts for the Economic Courts. For instance, we help to digitalize processes within the Economic Courts, limit in-person transactions, speed the resolution of cases, improve access to documents and notifications, and reduce petty corruption.
We also develop and implement enhanced transparency frameworks to provide consistent dissemination of information to the public and Economic Court end-users. The project also offers advanced training to judges and administrative staff on financial and commercial matters and the technical skills required to use and maintain automated systems. By increasing private sector confidence in the legal system, this activity will encourage foreign and local investment and promote economic development in Egypt.
Our approach involves key players in consultative processes to ensure that local actors become leaders and owners of sustainable initiatives. The activity has a three-phased approach:
- Phase 1: Baseline assessments to determine the business, technical, and human capacity of the Economic Courts through intensive stakeholder engagement and consensus building to lay the groundwork for successful implementation.
- Phase 2/Pilot Phase: Use the baseline assessments to prioritize, plan, design, and execute a set of core solutions across all activity goals and begin implementation in three initial Economic Court locations: Cairo, Alexandria, and Ismailia.
- Phase 3: Take the best practices and lessons learned from the pilot phase to expand and alter (as appropriate) the core solutions and apply them in the five remaining Economic Court locations across Egypt.
Women currently make up 0.5 percent of the judiciary, and the Egypt Vision 2030 initiative aims to increase that figure to 25 percent. Despite professional success in many fields, cultural aspects remain an obstacle to women’s advancement in the legal profession. Cultural norms and stereotypes that promote distrust of women in leadership positions and the role of judge persist. The activity strongly focuses on supporting women and marginalized populations and incorporates gender inclusion as a cross-cutting initiative.
In March 2021, a presidential directive statement was issued to the Ministry of Justice, allowing women into the prosecution office and Egyptian State Council, paving the way for them to become future judges through the same procedure as men. The project’s gender inclusion initiative works in four dimensions. The first is to build capacity to empower women in leadership and legal topics. Second, it aims to raise awareness about the successes and accomplishments of pioneers in the field of justice. Thirdly, it provides institutional improvements through establishing equal opportunity policies and environment in the Economic Courts. Fourthly, the activity advocates for the implementation of Egypt Vision 2030.
The activity focuses on the sustainability of information and communication technology, business processes, and organizational changes introduced through its work. To this end, key counterparts will build the human, institutional, financial, and leadership effectiveness and support they need to assume ownership at the end of the activity.
This activity is a continuation of MSI’s efforts to improve public management systems and government services provided to citizens in the countries where we work, fight corruption in government agencies, and increase government efficiency and accountability while introducing innovative solutions to streamline business and investment-related registration processes.
The activity also builds upon MSI’s successful efforts to assist Mexico and its federal authorities in their efforts to improve justice sector efficiency and accessibility through the USAID-funded PROJUST activity.