Wheels of justice to turn faster in Oman courts this year

Energy Monday 17/April/2017 21:51 PM
By: Times News Service
Wheels of justice to turn faster in Oman courts this year

Muscat: New systems have been put in place to reduce delays in Oman’s courts, according to the Supreme Court judge in charge of judicial inspections.
And Dr Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Salim Al Hashmi, head of Public Administration for Judicial Inspections, has also revealed that specialised courts will not be created this year.
The senior judge was responding to “community complaints” that people involved in court cases in the Sultanate face lengthy delays.
Earlier this year, the government’s Tanfeedh report suggested specialised courts should be created to handle labour law disputes and consumer complaints, among others.
In November last year, Tanfeedh labs proposed that dedicated courts should be set up in the country to resolve labour disputes.
“The development of a judicial system dedicated to labour disputes, which aims to cut down lengthy case resolutions and inconsistent judgments that hinder the ease of doing business in Oman, is needed,” Tanfeedh reported.
According to the labs’ proposal, dedicated courts would reduce the average length of labour disputes from 585 days to 204 - a 30 per cent reduction.
The supreme court judge confirmed that the judicial system will not establish specialised courts this year, adding: “The working conditions and requirements are not conducive to establishing specialised courts this year, though we have been taking a direction towards allocating judges with specific types of issues, so that the judge would gain expertise in that field, and contribute to speeding up the responses to these types of cases.”
The judge added that the courts have the power to allocate certain cases to departments that have knowledge and experience in that field.
“For example, a certain department would handle road cases, or rent issues, or consumer protection, and other specialised issues. The court system decides on this breakdown in the beginning of every judicial session, where the Supreme Court, Appeals courts, and the Courts of First Instance meet to consider certain issues.”
Dr Al Hashmi said court administrators try to resolve cases “within a reasonable period” and said that the government has introduced a number of systems this year to speed up the process.
Dr. Al Hashmi said: “Cases are resolved within a reasonable period depending on the nature of the case. Some case deliberations may be prolonged, but this is not due to the judges, but is due to the necessity of other bodies and experts needed to advise and assist the judiciary regarding certain cases.
“Consequently, these assisting parties would need to prepare reports and clarify the technical issues regarding cases. These can be expert opinions, which may require longer to prepare.
“Delayed responses of some government agencies whose reports are needed also cause a delay in court responses.” Dr. Al Hashmi said a new system of judicial inspections would also help with delays. “The new regulation list includes new mechanisms that we hope would contribute to lessening complaints of court delays. However, for anyone who sees that the delay in their case is unwarranted, the new regulation grants them the right to make a complaint to the Public Administration for Judicial Inspections.”
“In accordance with Article 14 of Regulations for Judicial Inspection, if the complaint is warranted regarding a delay in proceedings or a lax in procedure, the head of the Administration would refer the case to the appropriate court for examination and investigation. The court would provide them with the result in accordance with Article 17 of the Regulations for Judicial Inspections.”
Dr. Al Hashmi also said that the courts have activated an “electronic court case administration” programme for 2016/2017.
“It is a system that streamlines procedures for the prosecution and follow-up of cases within the court halls. It has been gradually implemented in the courts of Muscat and Al-Seeb, and is in the process of being implemented in all of the Sultanate’s courts.”
“It takes about one and a half years on average for a court case to reach completion. Many things contribute to delays in delivering justice to those who seek it,” said a lawyer, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Firstly, although companies do employ foreigners as legal consultants, the Primary Courts in the country have a 100% Omanisation policy, so only Omani lawyers can argue in these courts.
“This means that if you have a foreign lawyer, you need to first explain your case to the Omani lawyer and these things take time. If your case is being heard by the Supreme Court, then you can hire an Arab lawyer to plead for you, because all of the court cases here only take place in Arabic,” he added. “If there is a case in Oman, it first goes to the relevant ministry, where they have three hearings to decide who is wrong. If they can’t decide, they send it to the Primary Court, where you have about four of five hearings before a judge bench.”
“Depending on the outcome, you can either go to the Executive Court to ensure that the court orders all followed, or go to the Appeals Court to ask for a case to go to a higher level of justice, but you have to wait for 30 days after the Primary Court renders judgement to go to these courts, because that is the amount of time you need to give the other side to respond. If a court goes to the Appeals Court, they take another two or three sessions to reach a verdict.
“Once a case reaches the Supreme Court, their judgement is final, so they need to ensure they take the maximum amount of time to reach a verdict. They take about five to six months to decide the outcome of the case.
“That’s not all, because every June and July, the court employees, judges, lawyers etc. go on holiday for the summer so you have a month or two months’ delay there as well. We have court cases that began in 2014, and still haven’t been resolved, so a process to speed up these cases would be very welcome.”
Most common court cases:
1.) Financial cases
2.) Labour cases
3.) Cheque Fraud
4.) Embezzlement of funds
5.) Criminal cases

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