Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 September 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: More than 15,000 people benefit from legal aid in Abu Dhabi during pandemic

Abu Dhabi Judicial Department said a switch to digital platforms prompted by the outbreak helped more people to find support

Khamees Al Qubaisi, head of the lawyers’ and experts’ department at Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, during a virtual forum on legal aid presented by Abu Dhabi courts. Abu Dhabi Judicial Department.
Khamees Al Qubaisi, head of the lawyers’ and experts’ department at Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, during a virtual forum on legal aid presented by Abu Dhabi courts. Abu Dhabi Judicial Department.

More than 15,000 people in Abu Dhabi have benefited from legal aid since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic as a move to online services eased access to justice.

Abu Dhabi Judicial Department said more people were able to gain financial support for proceedings as a direct consequence of the outbreak.

As with many other sectors across the country, the department bolstered its digital presence in line with safety measures put in place to stem the spread of the virus.

“Anyone can enter their query through the website, and receive their answer,” said Khamees Al Qubaisi, head of the lawyers’ and experts’ department at ADJD.

“Or people could contact the call centre and they will be put in contact with legal guides.

“We managed to assist more people and answer more queries during the pandemic because the service has become more convenient and easy to reach.”

Officials are now considering how best to serve the public once the virus is contained in light of the success of its online platform.

“We will study how to develop our legal aid services to match the needs of beneficiaries; we will ask how they prefer to receive the service through surveys and so on,” Mr Al Qubaisi said.

The legal aid section was established by ADJD in 2011 to provide free legal guidance, and appoints lawyers for those who cannot cover their costs.

Last year, more than 190 lawyers were appointed for such cases.

When the legal aid section receives requests, they contact lawyers registered within the department and ask whether they are willing to volunteer and represent the case.

Currently, there are 1,055 lawyers registered with ADJD.

But in cases with charges that could lead to a life or death sentence, for which a defence attorney must be appointed by law, the department pays lawyers for their service.

Such offences include murder, rape, drug dealing, kidnap and adultery.

The department paid more than Dh1.4 million for 250 such cases this year.

Last year, more than Dh2 million was paid for 442 cases.

Updated: September 7, 2020 04:51 PM

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