CAIRO: Legal experts called for amending the court system in Egypt, accelerating the litigation procedures, in a two-day conference held this week.
On May 23–24, the Arab Center for Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession (ACIJLP) organized a conference titled “Swift Justice and the Slow Litigation Procedures in Egypt.”
Set in its third phase of implementation, the conference’s framework was organized under the center’s project regarding the “judicial justice and its role in the protection of human rights,” which will continue throughout the year.
Court cases can often take up to more than 20 years or ignored altogether, which is why the swiftness of litigation procedures in Egypt is a matter of great concern for many human rights activists.
Counselor Taha Abdallah from the Giza Court, co-head of the conference, expressed the need for many amendments and changes within the court system in Egypt.
“We first need to begin with modifying procedural texts as they greatly affect the pace and formalities of court proceedings,” Abdallah said.
Abdallah explained that the root of the problem lies in the basis of the court system. He said proceedings are not properly recorded, which he attributed to the lack of proper technology.
“The Lawyers’ Syndicate needs to take a more active role regarding the monitoring of the efficiency and swiftness of lawyers and judges,” added Abdallah, “Nevertheless, 80 percent of the blame is on the lawyers themselves as they lack proper education.”
On the issue of the education of lawyers, Fathi Waly, professor at the Faculty of Law, Cairo University, stressed the importance of holding credible and more intensive law degrees in Egypt.
“Law exams taken by many university students are lacking academically throughout Egypt,” Waly said, “They need to be more demanding, and more importantly, they need to be thoroughly supervised by specialists before lawyers can be granted a permit.”
Another concern tackled was the decreasing number of judges available, which consequently affects the pace of litigation procedures in Egypt. Abdallah stressed the lack of judges’ independence throughout the country.
According to studies by the center, judges deal with up to 200 cases per day, which subsequently means they can deal with up to 800 people every day. This suggests that court cases are usually delayed and therefore many demands are not met.
A report prepared by the center compared the court system in Egypt to those in Germany. While only 12,000 judges are available for the 83 million people in Egypt, up to 20,000 judges are available for 82 million citizens in Germany. Egypt is also largely lacking numerically with only 45 courts available in comparison to Germany with 1,066 courts.
The report also highlighted the shortage of the secretariat staff, lawyers and supervisors, which in turn also affects the speed of litigation.
Speakers at the conference called for more judges and more courts to be available to the general public, as this would improve the swiftness of litigation in Egypt.
They also called for implementing technological methods in all areas within the court system, as well as the introduction of evening adjournments in courts in order to allow participants from the general public to be available after their working day.