Legal community pushes to revamp Qatar’s court system as backlog grows

The Peninsula ran a series of articles over the weekend about a growing push in the legal community to improve Qatar’s backlogged court system.

Part of the problem, the newspaper reports, is an archaic system that has not been updated since 1990, when the country’s population consisted of half a million people:

“So many changes have taken place ever since, with the population also having literally exploded, so there is the need to amend the procedure codes to make sure they help the laws and the judicial machinery cope up with the developments,” (prominent lawyer) Yusuf Al Zaman told this newspaper.

Another serious issue is that many lawyers rely on stalling tactics that can draw out court cases for months or years, the newspaper reports, citing the example of the Villaggio fire trial.

The absence of some defendants in court has prompted the case to be delayed twice. The judges said the next step would be to send summons to the home of the Gympanzee owner and her husband, who are reportedly out of the country.

But if they don’t attend court during the next scheduled hearing, which is tomorrow, the trial could be delayed again, the Peninsula reports:

Lawyers say procedures to serve summons on an accused or on a defendant are too time-consuming. Under the law, it is a court’s prerogative to issue summons. In a criminal case a court official normally delivers the notice (summons) to an accused or number of accused.

If the notification fails to evoke response from an accused, it is sent again. If there is no response yet again, the notice is displayed at the main entrance of the residence of the accused or the defendant.

If it fails to serve the purpose, the court puts up a notice in a local newspaper. This is the last notification. If the accused does not respond, the court begins its proceedings and verdict in the case is delivered in absentia.

Statistics are not yet available for how many cases have been delayed this year. But one fifth of the 86,980 cases filed in Qatar’s courts last year (an increase of 5.4 percent from 2010), were not resolved.

However, that figure is comparable to other countries in the GCC, the Peninsula reports.

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by Chris Potter

Please read our Comments Policy before joining the discussion. By commenting, you agree to abide by it.

Some comments may not be automatically published. This is not action taken by us, but instead, depending on whether or not you have verified your email address, or if your post triggers automatic flags.