Justice is being seen to be done in Dubai after courts resumed remote hearings on Sunday and opened up proceedings to the public.
Initial sessions held by video conference in the Court of Cassation, the Court of Appeal and the Court of First Instance drew large viewing numbers as members of the public took a glimpse behind the chamber doors.
Cases heard online included labour, civil, commercial and personal status matters. Criminal hearings remain suspended, subject to further review next week.
Public court sessions were halted from Sunday, March 22 until Thursday, April 6 as part of nationwide efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus.
“Some (online) hearings were attended by more than 30 people, which is something remarkable and proves the success of this experience,” said Hamad Matar, head of communications at Dubai Courts.
He said that judges, court clerks, and translators among other court employees have taken extensive training to ensure they were ready to take part in online hearings.
“Everything was taken into consideration including checking networks and devices at their homes to ensure that uninterrupted e-hearings take place,” said Mr Matar.
Members of the public can access hearings from 8.30am each day on the Dubai Courts website, under electronic services.
“They can click on the 'list of cases', which will direct them to the actual list of hearings taking place on that day then by clicking on the camera icon next to each hearing, they can attend,” said the official.
A pass will be granted by the hearing’s clerk.
However, cases of sensitive nature such as family disputes are not open to the public.
“Prior to all this, family cases were held in private, therefore, we took that into consideration and only involved parties in family cases receive invitations from the clerk to attend the hearing,” Mr Matar said.
Earlier this month, Abu Dhabi court officials announced they would be conducting trial by video to ensure the wheels of justice were not halted by Covid-19.
Virtual courts are deployed to allow defendants to take part in proceedings while in custody.
The remote litigation scheme allows hearings to take place online, with judges able to hear cases live before delivering verdicts.
The hi-tech initiative is in line with the UAE government's stay-home strategy, aimed at limiting social interaction and helping to limit infections.
All parties involved in hearings – defendants, complainants and legal counsel – can access a live video link.