MAJOR revamp to Bahrain’s judicial system is underway in a bid to speed up procedures in civil and commercial cases.
Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa told MPs yesterday that existing procedures have to be developed to ensure a swifter mechanism.
He was speaking as parliament passed amendments to the 1971 Civil and Commercial Proceedings Law which would establish a new administrative court directorate under the ministry.
The directorate, which will be operational next month, will review cases to sort and classify them based on importance within a maximum four months.
“At the moment judges lose vital time collecting information, asking for documents and papers, calling those involved, appointing professionals or experts to aid the case, which takes time from the court hearings and delays the issuance of verdicts,” said Shaikh Khalid during yesterday’s weekly session.
“The new directorate that we hope to launch next month will have a maximum of four months to conduct that process before referring cases to concerned courts.
“Some individuals decide to hide information to ensure that cases get delayed, but now they won’t have the chance to affect justice with their actions as they will have lost the opportunity in front of the new directorate.
“We first came up with concept for the amendments to the law in 2008 but we didn’t receive back up from judges, lawyers and our employees, and now that has all changed and they want it.”
Shaikh Khalid explained that the courts were in the process of fully adopting a comprehensive electronic system.
“Seventy eight per cent of cases are being filed electronically, with lawyers and individuals being alerted electronically about dates or the need for additional information,” he said.
“There have been problems with the server because we didn’t expect a load on the system, but we are moving several cases to the Cloud to clear up the system.
“We are also seeking in the next few days further amendments to the law to allow lawyers to exchange documents on e-mail or through normal electronic transfers to save them time and ease their review of cases.”
Parliament’s legislative and legal affairs committee chairman Shaikh Majid Al Majid said more needed to be done to cut short the lengthy procedures in the courts.
“These amendments are a step forward and there are other amendments to the same law and other legislation (that are needed) to speed up the process,” he said.
“The new directorate has to be set up fast to clear up a backlog of cases that mainly go to the courts with missing vital details, deliberately or unintentionally.”
The amendment has been referred to the Shura Council for approval.