x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Welcome changes to justice system

Sunday’s decision to amend the 1992 Code of Civil Procedures marks the latest important step by the UAE towards judicial reforms.

The UAE’s judicial system is evolving. Sunday’s decision to amend the 1992 Civil Procedure Code marks the latest important step on that transformative road.

As The National reported yesterday, the UAE Cabinet has approved several changes to the judicial system, including an improved case management system that allows for electronic document filing.

This seemingly small and unremarkable step is expected to reduce delays in civil court cases and improve efficiency. The raft of changes announced on Sunday at the Cabinet meeting will also allow appeal cases to be held in the same courts that issue verdicts.

This move comes after Abu Dhabi Courts adapted an electronic Case Management System (CMS) earlier this year. The new CMS has cut down the amount of time spent on cases by making information more accessible to all parties.

All of these amendments indicate the UAE’s commitment to respond to criticism and reform its judicial system. Delays in cases coming to trial have previously drawn international concern and caused problems domestically. Indeed, this matter was deemed of sufficient importance to be discussed by the Federal National Council this year.

There is also a push for more transparency and engagement. The Dubai Courts recently launched a campaign to increase public awareness of the country’s legal system via monthly tours and engagement with the community through social media.

Other reforms are also on their way, including a proposed bankruptcy law that it is hoped will allow borrowers to restructure their debts, rather than face time in prison.

Currently, the law does not allow defaulters to pay off their debts and this is, as we have argued before on these pages, both counterproductive and counterintuitive. As it stands, the law is more likely, in fact, to persuade those facing insolvency to flee the country than face up to their debts.

The concept of justice is a cornerstone of any decent society. Any improvements that favour “justice and balance”, as these changes appear to do, should be greeted favourably.