x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Abu Dhabi courts become more specialised

The opening of an intellectual property branch is the beginning of a reshuffle of the courts where judges will possess more expertise in key areas of the law, which some experts say will ensure swifter verdicts and aid the economy.

ABU DHABI // A court specialising in intellectual property has been created in the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department.

The move is part of a general reshuffling of the court system that legal experts say will add credibility and quality to the process.

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs, and Chairman of the Judicial Department, issued an order on Tuesday evening to reorganise the judicial department.

Sultan Saeed al Badi, the department's undersecretary, said forming courts with specialised judges, such as those with a strong knowledge of intellectual property law, would help achieve speedy justice, and provide a better environment for foreign investment.

Other new specialised courts include a panel for family guidance and family issues, including managing reconciliations between married couples, divorces, and supervision of family counsellors.

A new appeals court has been established in Al Dhafra in Al Gharbia, which will handle cases from Al Marfa'a, Al Ruwais, Al Sala'a and Delma.

"Cases from the Western Region were handled by the Abu Dhabi Appeals Court, unlike Al Ain, which has its own appeals," said Mazen Tajeddine,legal counsellor at the undersecretary's office. "So a team of judges from Abu Dhabi used to be assigned once a week to go to Al Dhafra and deal with the cases from these areas."

The new specialities already existed in the old system, but cases were mixed in with other courts.

"For example, an intellectual property case could have been treated as a civil or a commercial case, depending on the situation. But now they will all be under one umbrella, with judges specialised in that area to upgrade the quality of the services," he added.

Moh'd-Bassam Belbeisi,a legal counsellor who specialises in commercial cases, said adding the new courts would enhance the country's economy.

"Specialised courts are a common practice in most developed countries - this adds professionalism and credibility to the justice system. So foreign investors will be more encouraged to invest in a country with a trusted legal system," he said.

As a lawyer, he said, it was important to present his case in front of a specialised judge because the jurist would be aware of all the dimensions of the case and is well informed about the laws.

"If the case is about contracts in the oil field, it would involve an international company, which means international laws will be involved. The judge should be aware of these laws and of international agreements that took place in the field," he said.

"Dealing with a specialised judge gives me and my client a better chance to win the case," agreed Ali Alabadi,a legal advocate.

"Criminal cases are much harder to represent than civil or commercial ones. It takes a lot to present legal evidence to convince the judge the defendant is innocent, so the judge should be more familiar with criminal law and cases," he said. He added that he once lost a criminal case because it was handled by a judge from the labour court.

Other administrative changes include dividing labour cases across two courts. One will deal with odd-numbered cases and the other with even numbers.

Court of Appeal cases in Al Ain will be distributed depending on the nature of the case: the civil court handles all civil appeals and the commercial court handles all commercial appeals.

Criminal court will also be divided into three courts to spread the workload.