Wednesday, 20 April 2011 09:21 By Al-amani Mutarubukwa, The Citizen Reporter Dar es Salaam. It is easier to enforce contracts in Zanzibar than in most small island economies due to an efficient judicial system that facilitates the resolution of commercial disputes, according to a new World Bank survey. The Doing Business in Zanzibar 2010 report that surveyed the ease of doing business in the isles ranked Zanzibar second after Singapore on the ease of enforcing contracts among 35 small island economies surveyed. Globally the Island ranked 37th out of 183 economies slightly behind Tanzania Mainland, which is ranked 31st. The survey covered issues like the number of procedures, time and cost required to file a case, conduct hearing and enforce a judgment. The archipelago surpasses other small island economies such as Mauritius (65), Seychelles (70), Jamaica (130) and the Comoros (152). According to the report, resolving a commercial dispute in Zanzibar Towns courts takes an average of 39 procedures, 469 days, and costs 12.6 per cent of the claim value, which is one procedure and seven days longer than in Dar es Salaam, but less expensive by 1.7 per cent of the average income per capita. Compared to 34 other small island economies measured by Doing Business, Zanzibar ranks 2ndsurpassed only by Singapore, where it takes just 21 procedures, 150 days, and costs 25.8 per cent of the claim value, the report reads in part. The report prepared by the World Bank measures business regulations and their enforcement in the region of Zanzibar, represented by Zanzibar Town. Doing Business series currently covers 183 economies around the world. The report also covers regulations that enhance business activity and those that constrain it. It presents quantitative indicators to measure the regulations affecting nine stages of the life of a business starting a business, dealing with construction permits, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and closing a business. Zanzibar boasts a comprehensive fee schedule for proceedings in courts the Rules of Court (Prescribed Fees), Rules 2000 which helps make it the cheapest island economy in the world in which to resolve a commercial dispute, the report says. However, in 10 other small island economies, the same commercial disputes would be resolved faster. Doing Business measures the efficiency of the judicial system in resolving a standardised commercial dispute. The data includes number of procedures, time and cost required to file a case, conduct a trial, and enforce a judgment. However, the efficiency of Zanzibars judiciary in resolving commercial disputes varies depending on which court has jurisdiction over the case. Jurisdiction is determined by monetary thresholds on the claim value. According to the assumptions of the Doing Business case study for this indicator, the standardized dispute would correspond to Zanzibars District Magistrate Court, which has jurisdiction over cases between Sh1 million and 5 million (US$ 771 and US$ 3,859, respectively). Disputes below Sh1 million are handled by primary courts, where no legal representation is required and cases are resolved more efficiently. However, the majority of commercial cases in Zanzibar fall under the competence of the district or the regional magistrate courts, where there are backlogs due to the high volume of cases and other factors such as, numerous legal appeals, adjournments, and dilatory practices often resorted to by the parties. Not surprisingly, 78 per cent of the total time required for enforcing a contract in Zanzibar belongs to the trial stage (365 days). Additionally, due to the fact that claims tried before these courts require legal representation and expert testimonies, they are substantially more expensive than those tried in Zanzibars Primary Courts. Zanzibar and other small island economies could look at Singapore, a leader in the area of commercial dispute resolution. In Singapores court system, all documents can be filed electronically and each case can be monitored online from the moment it is filed until a decision is delivered. According to the report, on average, commercial disputes are resolved in just five months in Singapore. Currently, the courts in Zanzibar have jurisdiction over commercial, civil and criminal cases. As Zanzibars economy continues to grow and attract investment, the World Bank recommends a specialised commercial section or even a separate commercial court to help ensure that commercial disputes are resolved quickly and efficiently.