Reform of Saudi Arabia’s legal system has been underway for several years now. Everything from new training programs for judges, new standards for judges, attempts at codification of the laws, permitting female attorneys to argue cases in court have been happening, slowly but steadily.
Now, legal experts are calling for an expansion of specialized courts to deal with specific areas of the law, particularly those concerning business. Currently, judges, with few exceptions, take whatever case is before them. Applying the precepts of Shariah law, they work out for themselves how cases should be decided. They rely on what they know to make their decision and therein lies the problem.
As human knowledge expands, it’s become impossible for any individual to know all things, even within a wide band of certainty. Courts, legal experts say, must start to focus on particular types of law and employ judges who know that area of law well. Generalists are no longer sufficient for complicated legal issues that involve foreign law. And foreign law has become important because Saudi Arabia is smack in the middle of the global economy.
While the government is expanding the number of judges and general courts, the experts say they need more particularized courts to deal promptly with the issues that affect them. Businesses cannot wait for a judge to start reading up on an issue in order to reach a verdict. They need to know the material before the cases even hit their desks.
Judges and lawyers stress urgent need for specialized courts
Saudi Gazette report
JEDDAH — Judicial reforms project envisaged by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has yet to achieve the desired results, Al-Riyadh newspaper reported Monday quoting a number of judges and lawyers.
Judicial experts and specialists called for the establishment of specialized courts to consider the accumulated cases instead of leaving the task to the general courts. Specialized courts, they said, would create a judicial environment which would cope up with the economic boom, expedite the consideration of lawsuits and ensure fast issuance of suitable and fair rulings. The experts held ministries of justice and finance responsible for the delay in the establishment of such courts.
Abdullah Al-Ejairi, an appellant judge, specialized courts are necessary to deal with a large number of cases now being looked at by the general courts which usually take long years. “There should be a three-fold increase in the number of judges to dispose off the huge number of accumulated lawsuits,” he said.