The future of court hearings – post COVID-19

June 23, 2020
By Abdulla Ziad Galadari

Dubai Courts decided to resume its hearings remotely in the three litigation degrees, the courts of first instance, appeal and cassation. Dubai Courts confirms that this decision constitutes a broad step to facilitate and expedite the litigation process, and to coronate a package of pioneering accomplishments achieved by the litigation department in a short period.

This remote service enables the public to attend from any place by selecting the number of a smart chamber through a videoconference, depending on the judicial circuit concerned, and allows everyone to access the courts’ chambers.

The courts activated the videoconference hearings and announced about the virtual chambers which enable people from any place to attend the virtual court chamber and observe the proceedings there as if they were present at the court chamber itself.

The courts stated in a press release that, this decision comes in line with the preventive and precautionary measures to confront the Coronavirus (Covid-19) and in response to the raised level of threat by the World Health Organization (WHO) to an epidemic and to preserve the safety of our society.

The situation is very sensitive, however, the solution is the package of measures which the state is taking, such as allowing the public to go out, closing and prohibiting going out at late hours of night in order to move the economy and all sectors forward to all people, including the courts sector. Therefore, the idea of ​​conducting virtual hearings by using advanced technologies is the solution at the present time to overcome the crisis and to try alleviating the situation for judges and litigants.

To expedite the process of litigation, due to COVID-19, the Cabinet issued Resolution No. 33 of 2020 amending Cabinet Resolution No. 57 of 2018 regarding the regulation of Federal Law No. (11) of 1992 on the Civil Procedures Law. The provisions of its articles contained many procedures that reduce the burden of the many procedures of litigation and ease them to expedite the legal process, so that each person gets his right in a timely and cost-effective manner. Now, you can interact with the courts remotely, through the system and websites of the courts, law firms or Adheed offices in the state. The UAE precedes many countries in this respect and decided to move the judicial process forward in the country.

Are there are downsides to this system? Yes. Some people try to keep pace with the change by using the modern technology tools available. Yet, some problems occur in terms of reaching out and communicating with a judge, either because a litigant is not familiar with this kind of services or due to the overcrowding of litigants in front of Adheed offices, which leads to the interruption of communication.

Special committees have been formed to adjudicate certain disputes. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid issued more than one release for the resolving of some disputes, such as the dispute resolution committees in cases involving Dubailand, in addition to other committees.

Further, the establishment of a one-day trial court, in accordance with the Cabinet Decree No. 33 of 2020, is considered a step towards speeding up and pushing the litigation process forward.

The courts now hear all types of lawsuits, such as civil, commercial and others, and there are no lawsuits that have not been heard, that some lawsuits are either still under consideration or have been adjudicated with professionalism and advancement. The courts stand at the same distance for all litigants, and every person may file his submissions and documents on the court’s E-portal.

Dubai Public Prosecution declared that 149 people have been investigated remotely since the implementation of the remote litigation procedures, in light of the implementation of measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The Public Prosecution announced the results of applying the remote litigation procedures during the period of the global pandemic, confirming that 117 cases were investigated remotely, 149 minutes of investigation were recorded and signed remotely.

138 hours were spent in remote investigations, 734 enforcement orders were issued for remote judicial rulings, 53 remote smart bailing were processed, and 62 judicial summons were served remotely.

The Attorney General of Dubai Public Prosecution, Mr. Issam Issa Al Humaidan, issued on March a package of decisions to implement the remote litigation in line with the government’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. This is to ensure the safety of employees and applicants and to preserve interests and rights of the society without interruption, to the fullest extent.

The Public Prosecution in Dubai has also adopted a package of smart services and invited public to use them, confirming that those smart services are available 24/7 on the website and smart applications. Furthermore, the Public Prosecution requested the people involved in the remote working process, for the sake of ensuring the security of information and privacy, to observe the security standards in order to build a secure digital judiciary.

The Public Prosecution began conducting remote investigation to continuously preserve the interests and rights of the community. It also provided E-services on the website and smart applications to apply for photocopying a lawsuit papers, and applications for a certificate to whom it may concern, a passport collection and cancellation of arrest order. Also, the Prosecution provided to lawyers the services to file appeal and cassation via email, besides other services.

The Dubai Public Prosecution confirmed that it enjoys an effective technical infrastructure which is capable of meeting vital needs. The Prosecution since years now has been taking proactive steps by launching several strategic initiatives to transform  its legal procedures into smart that work remotely to achieve the insightful vision of our wise leadership at that time, in preparation for the future.