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Videoconferencing in civil trials from next year

A new law approved by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan will further promote rule of law, fast-track civil trials and keep pace with advanced technologies, Sultan Bin Saeed Al Badi, Minister of Justice, said on Thursday.

Al Badi said changes in the Civil Procedures Code will allow, starting from next year, videoconferencing in civil court trials and specialised courts to hear labour, financial, contracting and intellectual property, among other, cases.

“Inspired by the French Tribunals de Commerce, these courts will be presided by a judge, but other members on the bench will be experts, but not career judges,” Al Badi said in a press briefing held at the Ministry of Justice.

Al Badi added rulings will be given by the presiding judge, but experts will assist the judge come to the final conclusion.

Al Badi said that this fast-tracks justice for individuals as these courts will ensure quicker verdicts without impacting the integrity of law as well as save expert charges which burdened litigants.

The Justice Minister said the changes will also allow videoconferencing in civil trials. Defendants, witnesses, experts and translators will appear through videoconferencing.

The move, Al Badi said, is also meant to avoid unnecessary delays and backlog in civil trials.

Al Badi said the law would also make it easier for police and prosecutors, as investigators would not have to carry the case files from one spot to another.

The law applies the same conditions as regular court hearings, including confidentiality of procedures that have been filmed, and protecting the material from being exchanged, copied or deleted, except with permission from the court.

Videoconferencing would also be of particular benefit in judicial procedures with foreign countries and testimonies by overseas experts.

Al Badi said the UAE has a judicial system that is on a par with global standards that ensures the rights of society, both individuals and organisations, and effectively contributes to achieving the desired goals of strategic plans that sustain the UAE’s competitiveness.

The Justice Minister affirmed that by introducing these changes into the Civil Procedures Code, the UAE aims to become among the world’s top performers in rule of law.

“A strategic goal of the UAE is to become one of the top 25 performers in the World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index, during the next five years,” the minister said.

Last year, the UAE was ranked 33 in the Rule of Law Index, whose results strengthen the UAE’s status as a leading trade, finance, investment and tourism hub with a distinguished record in the rule of law, justice, safety, security and other unique features.

According to the index, the UAE’s overall rule of law performance places it at 30 out of 36 among high-income countries; and 33 out of 113 countries and jurisdictions worldwide.

The index is the world’s leading source for original data on the rule of law. The 2016 edition expanded coverage to 113 countries and jurisdictions (from 102 in 2015), relying on more than 100,000 household and expert surveys to measure how the rule of law is experienced in practical, everyday situations by the general public worldwide.

The WJP Rule of Law Index is intended to be a first step in setting benchmarks, informing and guiding reforms, and deepening appreciation and understanding for the foundation of the rule of law.

The new law has also introduced additional procedures aimed at facilitating and expediting the process of notification and service at civil courts, using advanced technologies.

Source: Gulf News

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