Back to Global Rankings

MOROCCO: An Introduction to Dispute Resolution

Morocco is a young and dynamic country with a rich culture and blend of influences – European, African, Arab and Berber. It has a unique geographical position: it is the most westerly of the North African countries (only 14 km from Spain), with both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines. Morocco has a history of independence and stability.

Morocco has launched numerous strategic sectorial plans that encourage foreign investment in the country and also ensure strong and sustainable economic growth. This strategy was recently marked by an innovative contracting approach that adopted:
• a specific programme for the development of the renewable energy sector (solar and wind);
• a specific tax incentive and monetary regime for companies operating under the Casablanca Finance City jurisdiction, which furthers the development of Africa and aims to attract international institutions to choose Casablanca as a gateway to access the continent; and
• a PPP (public-private partnership) law to speed the development of strategic sectors such as infrastructure, roads, logistics, energy, agriculture, fisheries, mining and promising sectors such as automotive, aerospace and services of high added value.

Also, a set of mechanisms to increase competition and transparency was put in place to simplify the administrative procedures for businesses and strengthen the business law framework. This includes a new code for public bids and a new law on competition/merger control and cartel rules, as well as a recent law on personal data protection. It also created new constitutional authorities such as the Authority of the Ombudsman (Mediateur).

With regard to competition, a new version of the law on competition has been put in place, including merger control rules (economic concentration transactions with new thresholds and conditions for notification) and a new president and members of the Authority have been appointed with extensive rules and attributions.

Also, a new law on restructuring/insolvency procedures has been implemented, including some rules regarding international co-operation and recognition of foreign decisions in this field.

By positioning itself as a destination of excellence, attractive to capital, skills and new activities, Morocco is aiming for a rise in wealth for its growing population. Morocco intends to position itself as a production and export platform for European know-how.

Its advanced status with the EU under the European Neighbourhood Policy, as well as the conclusion of several free trade agreements respectively with the USA, Turkey and the Arab Free Trade Zone, has encouraged the establishment of numerous foreign companies.

Morocco's legal system is based on a new and modern constitution dated 2011, and its laws and implementing regulations set the basis for a more open and democratic society, increased decentralisation, modern institutions and a renewed state of law more broadly.


1. Structure of the court system 

The Moroccan court system comprises ordinary and specialised courts. The ordinary courts are divided into three levels: (a) the Courts of First Instance; (b) the Courts of Appeal, which hear appeals against decisions of the Court of First Instance; and (c) the Cour de Cassation (Supreme Court), which is the highest court, ruling only on the legal issues at stake in the case and not on the facts. There are also specialised courts (for example, commercial courts and administrative courts).

2. Procedure 

Proceedings are brought before courts by a writ signed by the claimant’s lawyer. A copy is served on the defendant by a bailiff.

3. Interim remedies to preserve the parties' interests pending judgment

Judges have power to freeze a party’s assets pending judgment where there is prima facie evidence of a good arguable case against the owner of the assets and a credible risk that they may be dissipated to defeat a judgment.

4. Appeal and recourse 

Judgments and orders may be appealed within 30 days from the date on which the judgment is served on the unsuccessful party. This timeframe may be reduced to 15 days for judgments rendered by commercial courts.

The appeal suspends in principle the enforcement of the decision. Excluding those decisions that automatically benefit from immediate enforcement and notwithstanding appeals or applications to annul, the court must order immediate enforcement – when requested to do so – in all cases involving an official instrument, an acknowledged obligation.

Parties may also appeal to the Supreme Court within 30 days of the notification of the appeal decision. The Supreme Court rules on legal issues, not on the facts, and may decide to allow an appeal, known as a pourvoi (in which case it quashes the appealed decision and invites the parties to revert to the lower court), or to dismiss it.

5. Recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments 

It is possible to enforce a foreign judgment in Morocco by leave of the local Court of First Instance or commercial court, at the place of residence of the defendant or, where applicable, the place of enforcement.

However, this court will not give leave to enforce the judgment unless:
• it was made by a competent court in the relevant jurisdiction;
• the judgment is final under the law in which judgment was rendered;
• the parties have been properly represented and duly notified; and
• the decision is not contrary to Moroccan public policy.


The Code of Civil Procedure contains rules governing arbitration for domestic and foreign awards.

Morocco is also the second signatory country of the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Arbitral Awards, which has been in force since 7 June 1959. It is possible to enforce a foreign arbitral award in Morocco by leave of the Moroccan courts.

However, the courts will not grant leave to enforce the award unless:
• it was made by a competent court in the relevant jurisdiction;
• the award is enforceable under the law in which judgment was rendered;
• the parties have been properly represented; and
• the decision is not contrary to Moroccan public policy.