The ‘economic courts’ are being introduced to counter long-standing complaints from foreign investors that Egypt’s existing legalsystem is unreliable and slow.

“We are improving our legal framework,” says Mohieldin. “The problems with the existing system are to do with protection of property rights and getting the laws applied in a swift manner.”

Commercial cases take an average of six years to reach a conclusion, according to US thinktank the Heritage Foundation.

The courts will also act against corruption. “We are trying to minimise the possibility of insider dealing or price manipulation,” says Mohieldin.

The cabinet first debated the law to create economic courts in March 2006, but the upper house of Egypt’s parliament only approved the law on 18 March. It now needs the approval of the lower house.

Egypt already has a mini–ster-ial committee that hears disputes between businesses and the government.

The new courts should make it easier for investors to buy property and resolve disputes. Under the existing legal system, it takes an average of 193 days to register a property, according to the World Bank.

“Our challenge is about getting the business environment better to attract more foreign direct investment,” says Mohieldin