CAIRO: The government proposed a new law that would increase the fees for filing lawsuits 10-fold, a move expected to create controversy because of the financial burden it poses.
The new law will make the legal system “only affordable for the rich, lawyer Amir Salem told Daily News Egypt.
However, Fathi Ragab, deputy chairman of the Shoura Council, told Daily News Egypt, that “according to Article 23, those who cannot afford the fees will be exempted, provided that the court verifies their claims.
The new law stipulates a 10-fold increase in the fees, Ragab said.
In 1944, he explained, the current fees were set at LE 1-5, with the court receiving 1.5-5 percent of the demanded financial compensation.
Based on the new law, fees will range from LE 10-50, but the court’s share of the compensation will remain as is, Ragab said.
That, however, conflicts with statements made on state TV last Sunday, where Shawki Al-Sayed, Shoura Council member affiliated with the National Democratic Party (NDP), told “Al-Beit Betak TV show that the new law also proposes a change in the court’s share of the compensation – to be set at 7 percent – a rate he said he strongly objected to.
Salem also criticized the timing during which this law is to take effect – explaining that the global financial crisis will take its toll on Egyptians this year.
On the other hand, Ragab saw this a perfect time to change the law, given “the change the [Egyptian] currency’s value has undergone.
While Salem rejects the idea of charging for lawsuits in the first place, saying that “legal services should be free and offered to all citizens, Ragab said that the proposed increase in the fees will still fall short of covering the expenses of the legal system.
Salem expects the new law to cause a decrease in the overall number of lawsuits filed and “stand in the way of justice.
On his part, Ragab said that the new law is meant to minimize the number of trivial lawsuits.
“Such lawsuits, Ragab said, “are a waste of time, effort and money.
While Ahmed Mekky, deputy chairman of the Court of Cassation, believes changing the 1944 law is necessary, he still maintains that this was the wrong way to tackle it.
“The government can increase the fees of the appeal cases to stop people from filing unnecessary lawsuits which linger on for too long, Mekky said.
“This way, he continued, “the government will make filing lawsuits affordable, while at the same time filtering the number of baseless lawsuits.
Mekky, however, supports the idea of increasing the court’s share of the compensation, because “it will force the people demanding compensation to ask for reasonable amounts.
The new law is currently being discussed in the Shoura council, Egypt s Upper House of Parliament, and if approved, will be passed to the People’s Assembly (PA) for discussion.
The Ministry of Finance will be the main beneficiary of the increase, followed by the Ministry of Justice.