Azzam Zalloum of Zalloum & Laswi in Amman looks at the latest legislative changes in Jordan
The governing regime in the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan is a constitutional monarchy and is founded on the principal of separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches, whereby each enjoys the right to perform its duties independently and without the interference of any of the other branches. That being said, the relationship between the three branches is an integrated and participatory relationship based on flexibility and balance.
The legislative branch has the right to supervise the actions of the executive and the right and authority to hold the executive branch accountable for its actions through various measures, including for instance the withdrawal of confidence. It also has the right to propose laws upon the request of a minimum of ten Parliament or Senate members.
The Parliament’s structure in Jordan is based on two chambers, consisting of (i) the Senate (the members are appointed by his Majesty the King; and (ii) the Parliament (representatives that are directly elected by Jordanian citizens).
The Parliament (as a whole) undertakes duties and functions that are briefly summarised below:
The legislative process in Jordan undergoes three phases: drafting the laws, discussing and issuing them. The Parliament has the right to accept, reject or amend the draft laws, noting that, as aforementioned, the draft laws are either proposed by the executive branch or based on the request of a minimum of ten Parliament or Senate members.
The Parliament exercises its supervision over the executive branch through several mechanisms, such as: giving or withdrawing confidence, requesting a discussion, expressing wishes, issuing questions, hearing petitions and complaints and interrogation and accusation.
The Parliament also ratifies the public state budget, supervises taxes and concession contracts.
Elections for the current Parliament in session (No. 17) took place on January 23 2013. Since its first session and until mid-2014, more laws have been adopted in all areas of law relative to previous Parliament Councils. This stems from several reasons, the most important being constitutional entitlements, where it is mandatory to adopt a group of temporary laws within a set period of time, otherwise such laws would be deemed unconstitutional, in addition to keeping up with the accelerating economic and social developments in Jordan.
Over 40 laws were discussed and adopted by the current Parliament, the most important of which are:
The Social Security Law No. 1 of 2014
This law has important economic and social impact considering that it touches a large number of Jordanians and has provided many new benefits compared to previous social security laws. The most important benefits are: increasing the early retirement salaries between 10%-15%; linking the salaries of those reaching the retirement age (60 for males and 55 for females) with the annual inflation; increasing the dependency allowance for the elderly and early retirement citizens between 1%-2%; and allowing the combination of early retirement salary with the received salary in the event of re-entry to the work force.
Amendment for Anticorruption Law No. 16 of 2014
This amendment has given the anticorruption commission independence to enable it to perform its duties away from any influence or interference from any entity whatsoever. The amendments allowed the anticorruption commission to annul or terminate any contract, benefit or concession, or suspend it until a court rules on the issue, if it was proven that it was obtained through corruption and the right.
The Graft Law No. 21 of 2014
This law has cancelled the Financial Disclosure Law No. 54 of 2006. The law articulated a new mechanism to deal with graft, including its definition, who the law applies to, the mechanism(s) to execute its provisions, and the establishment of a new department in the Ministry of Justice called the “Graft Prevention Department”. This department is administratively linked to the Ministry of Justice and headed by a judge from the Court of Cassation, the highest court in Jordan.
Amendment for Provisions relating to Immovable Property Law No. 3 of 2013
This law has been adopted to ensure consistency between the immovable property register and the actual dealings with powers of attorney through the proper recording of POA relationships in the immovable property register itself, as well as encouraging individuals dealing in the immovable market to record POAs in transfers of ownership of immovable property within three months from their execution.
Investment Law of 2014
The Parliament approved this law on June 18 2014 and it is expected to be approved by the Senate before the end of the special session that expires at the end of July 2014. The most prominent changes in this vital law is the exemption of many goods and services from customs and sales tax, including the following: agriculture, animal resources, hospitals, comprehensive medical centres, hotel and tourist facilities, entertainment and tourist recreation parks, communication centres, scientific research centres, medical laboratories, movie and media production, exhibitions and conferences centres, transportation, sale or extraction of water, gas or petroleum derivatives, maritime transportation and railroads.
Amendment for Ministers’ Trial No. 3 of 2014
This amendment is in line with the constitutional amendments enacted in 2011.The amendment added and increased penalties that were not part of the Penal Law, and the trial of ministers for crimes arising from lack of performance of duties before the regular courts, after these were conducted at the High Council for Interpreting the Constitution which was cancelled in the last constitution’s amendments in 2011 and replaced by the Constitution Court.
Zalloum & Laswi
About the author
Azzam Zalloum heads the firm’s litigation department. He brings with him over 20 years of experience as a litigator in Jordan and is renowned for his exceptional commercial litigation experience and acumen, and his successful track record with multi-million dollar law suits. His clientele range from government agencies to local and international professionals and was engaged by the World Bank and IFC for various projects, which are: “Capacity Building for Insolvency Practitioners” in 2013 and “Impediments to International Integration” in 2007. His most recent cases include a dispute over the financing of a pipeline from Russia to Italy with a capital of one hundred million dollars, and a ten million dollar lawsuit against three Sudanese banks over gas and seed exports.
Since 1990, he advised companies on all matters related to complex litigation and corporate business transactions including IPOs, share subscriptions, restructuring, due diligence, setting up and advising public and private companies in various sectors (e.g. IT, Services, Recruitment, Investment, Pharmaceutical), IT-related copyright, trademark issues, anti-piracy issues, enforcement, and providing advice, reviewing, and drafting all types of contracts.