Minister Rafic Hariri’s Speech at the Order of Engineers
have experienced arbitration in public commercial and
constructional contracts, here and abroad. Arbitration in
engineering contracts was not known on a large-scale two
decades ago. Therefore, I find your joint training course
beneficial to lawyers and engineers and all professionals
involved in construction in Lebanon.
legislators recognize the importance or arbitration and its
role in facilitating conflict resolution in favor of all
involved parties. That is why they promulgated the necessary
laws that suit the complications of modern contracts on one
hand and facilitate conflict resolution on the other.
laws governing arbitration need updating and improvement to
cope with modern developments in the world where arbitration
is playing a key role in resolving commercial conflicts.
also seems that the Lebanese law does not provide for
arbitration in contracts between the government and the
private sector. I believe that some countries, like Egypt,
have passed clear laws in this respect, thus ending disputes
over the matter in favor of arbitration of contracts the
involve the government. The reason public sector companies
behave nowadays like their parallels in the private sector.
arbitration in Lebanon, I would like to say that if you have
specific suggestions, please present them to the government.
We are ready to discuss any proposal in the presence of the
specialized minister. I can also discuss these proposals with
you. We all want to develop Lebanon’s legal system and make
more flexible and accurate in the arbitration field.
believe that arbitration is very important. We also believe
that the country needs this system and needs to develop it. I
urge you again to use your good experience in this domain to
present us with proposals that are capable of enriching
Lebanon’s laws in this respect.
PM Hariri’s statement, the following discussion took place
between him and the audience:
– The Institution of Measurements and Specifications needs
support. Will you support such institutions that have been
frozen since 1968?
– The government believes in openness. It wants to encourage
industry and qualitative agriculture. Both need to abide by
international or similar specifications. The institution must
be supported to supervise the production of certificates and
make sure that products abide by specifications. We urge you
to make suggestions to develop the mechanism of the
– Some laws date back to the Ottoman period but are still
being implemented. Do we need to develop these laws or appoint
more judges? I also would like to suggest the formation of a
committee that investigates the issue of dilapidated buildings
to avoid future calamities.
– There is no reason why the Council for Development and
Reconstruction should not have a special team that receives
complaints about dilapidated buildings.
the updating of laws, especially those dating back to the
Ottoman period, France still has laws dating back to
Napoleon’s government but are still valid. This is not an
obstacle. The important thing is that laws should be in line
with current requirements. Laws are updated according to
society’s needs and requirements.
– Regarding judicial independence, do you believe we can
follow on the footsteps of developed countries where judges
are chosen by the people to be independent of the political
– Systems vary from one country to the other. There is no
ideal system. The system you spoke about is applied in the
United States. The situation is different in France and
Britain. Our laws are close to those applied in France, which
is one of the world’s oldest democracies. We always follow
on the footsteps of France in our attempts to develop our
Lebanese judiciary is independent to a large extent. It all
depends on the judge. What can a political official do to him?
Can he move him from his position? He might but where is the
problem? I believe that no political official can pressurize a
judge who trusts himself and his conscience. It all depends on
the judiciary. But I would like to assure people, judges and
all politicians that as long as I am in office, I will not
allow anyone to pressurize a judge.
knows that when I was in power the last time, Judge Philippe
Khairallah, then president of the Higher Judicial Authority,
openly thanked me for not interfering in judicial
appointments. Judges have the right to have immunity against
political interference. If a system can give them more
immunity, I will endorse it. We are just being close to French
– Many lawsuits involving real estates are stuck in courts.
I suggest the establishment of a special court to study such
– We are open to suggestions for updating laws, facilitating
people’s affairs and speeding up court work. This is a
general responsibility, not just that of the government. We
don’t claim to have encompassing knowledge of everything,
but we believe that the Lebanese are active. We want to
encourage this activity.
– How do you corroborate your call for an independent
judiciary and your appointment of Minister Fouad Siniora
before the judiciary decided in his case?
– This involves a basic issue that all people advocate. Any
person is innocent until he is proven guilty. You seem to
suggest that suspects should remain in custody until verdicts
are handed down. Your complaint would stand if Minister
Siniora was convicted and remained in office. If he is
convicted, he will resign to follow up his case. If he is
proven innocent, as I believe he is, he will have had his
right to live like anyone else.
– How long you think you need to solve the economic problem?
Some politicians and businessmen have given the government
three to four months.
– What do you mean by solving the problem? Will the solution
come abruptly or gradually? We are carrying out some public
moves in all directions. If someone believes that we have
missed something, let him tell us and guide us. If he is
right, we will follow his advice. This is the basic
characteristic of the democratic system.
are planning to decrease tariffs. We heard that the move might
decrease revenues. This is true, but we are working on the
long-term, not the short-term. We are looking for a role for
the country. This requires decisions that may lead to losses
on the short-term but will lead to gains on the long-term.
After we enacted the open-skies policy, we were told that it
would harm the Middle East Airlines. But is the company making
profits now? It has been losing for years and burdening the
society. Let us open a new means for the society to make
profits to make up for these losses. I believe that more
landings will increase competition, thus giving MEA more
chances to operate its planes and obtain more planes.
tariffs will decrease revenues if the economy’s size remains
the same. Those who expect fewer revenues actually expect the
economy’s size to remain the same. This will not happen
unless some other conditions remain the same. We have to break
the vicious circle by increasing revenues and encouraging
economic growth, which requires measures like the open-skies
policy and decreasing tariffs. The new customs law will be
revolutionary because it will make Lebanon similar to European
countries regarding customs facilities, not just decreasing
tariffs. Customs facilities will encourage dealings and more
dealings will increase revenues.