Dubai court system gets Dh16m facelift

New services hall, records system and even a wedding chapel are among improvements designed to aid courts, lawyers and the public.

DUBAI // A hall for public services, a wedding chapel and an electronic records system were among the new features unveiled yesterday at the Dubai Courts complex. The Dh16.4 million (US$4.5m) renovation project will allow the courts to handle cases more efficiently and reduce paperwork, officials said.

The improvements, the first made to the complex since it opened in 1992, were inaugurated by Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed, Deputy Ruler of Dubai. Additions include a 2,600 square metre general services hall designed to encourage public interaction. It holds 19 booths where employees can complete court-related transactions, so visitors do not have to go to a specific department. The hall also contains three fast-track booths for urgent cases, a typing office and a restaurant.

The renovations began two years ago with the creation of the "personal status" hall, which now includes a wedding chapel. Other new features include special services for the disabled and a centralised computer administration system to cut down on paperwork. The 21 court chambers received a technological facelift to help judges control proceedings. They were fitted with remote locks, a computerised national identification system and a live stenographer screen that will allow judges and lawyers to read testimonies as they are given during a hearing.

Several electronic systems were introduced to generally make things easier for the public, including features that allow them to review the status of cases and navigate around the complex. The Nebras system will let clients review laws and locate offices. It has an interactive map of the building. An electronic registration station will allow the public to register their cases. It also offers a navigational tool with directions to various off-site offices, such as the notary public in Al Barsha and the Dubai Financial Centre, said Abdelrahman al Midrib, the director of Information Technology at Dubai Courts.

The Barza system replaces the daily court list and is electronically updated on screens around the court halls. The system provides a greener approach because it is not paper based and offers greater flexibility, court officials said. It also provides a live feed of court proceedings that can be followed on screens outside the chamber, which will help people know when they are required to proceed to court.

Another system, called Nayef, will link the courts' five major administrative networks. The centralised approach should save time by eliminating the need to pass papers between departments. People with special needs will be able to call from in-house phones identifying their location, and a service official will go to them with the necessary documents and complete their transactions for no charge.

Hashim al Hashemi, the head of public services for the courts, said all court employees were up to speed with the changes. "The staff have been trained to be able to interact and deal with the public with regard to any court matter," he said. The renovations and the introduction of new specialist courts in the last two years are part of the Government's efforts to develop the legal framework and infrastructure. The Labour Court was launched in September 2007, followed a year later by the Real Estate Court.