The laws governing business in Jordan have undergone a fundamental change in 1995. This has been in line with government policies to convert Jordan from a consumption- to a production-oriented economy and to open all economic activity to the private sector, both local and foreign.
In recent years, priority was given to new investments, taxation and protection of intellectual property laws. New legislation has also been passed in the areas of labor law and sales tax. Key changes have been introduced in the laws governing major infrastructure enterprises such as the Telecommunications Corporation and the Jordan Electricity Authority as part of an on-going privatization program, as well as in the laws governing activities of the Amman
Financial Market (AFM).
The Jordanian judicial system is comprised of both civil and religious courts. The religious court system’s jurisdiction extends to all matters of personal status, and the civil courts have jurisdiction over all other matters.
The religious court system has jurisdiction over matters of personal status, including marriage, divorce, inheritance and alimony. Persons of the same religion are subject to the appropriate religious courts, the Shar’ia Courts for Muslims and Ecclesiastical Courts for Christians. Persons not of the same religion who do not expressly consent to the jurisdiction of a religious court may bring their dispute to the civil court having appropriate jurisdiction.
The civil judiciary is a three-tiered system. The lowest courts are the fourteen Magistrates Courts and the seven Courts of First Instance. The Magistrates Courts have expressly defined jurisdiction to hear civil and criminal cases of matters involving small fines of a maximum imprisonment period of two years.
The Courts of First Instance have general jurisdiction in all criminal and civil matters not expressly granted to the Magistrates Courts’ jurisdiction. The Courts of First Instance also sit at a court of appeal for judgments of Magistrates Courts.
The next judicial tier is the Court of Appeals, which is presided over by a tribunal of judges. Jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals is geographically based. The Courts of Appeals hear appeals in chambers in chambers of Magistrates Courts’ decisions, and decide on appeals from decisions of the Courts of First Instance and the Religious Courts.
The Court of Cassation is the highest level of the judiciary. A full panel of judges hears important cases. A five-judge panel hears ordinary appeals of decisions from the Court of Appeals.