Hindi is to become the third official language used in the Abu Dhabi court system as part of a move designed to improve access to justice.
Foreign nationals will be able to lodge claims and raise grievances in the language, which is widely spoken in India and by many expat workers in the UAE, in labour cases.
It follows a change in the rules last year which required plaintiffs to translate all court documents into English in civil and commercial cases, if the defendant was not an Arabic speaker.
The Abu Dhabi Justice Department said the change would allow Hindi speakers to learn about litigation procedures and their rights and responsibilities without a language barrier. Interactive forms in Hindi will be made available on its website.
Yousef Saeed Al Abri, the justice department undersecretary, said the change would help attract foreign investment and enhance Abu Dhabi’s reputation as a destination for skilled labour. It is part of a plan to reinforce the effectiveness and sustainability of judicial processes and ensure “universal access to services."
“The adoption of multilingual interactive forms for claim sheets, grievances and requests, aims to promote judicial services in line with the plan Tomorrow 2021, and increase the transparency of litigation procedures through the provision of bilingual forms which allow foreigners to know the litigation procedures, their rights and duties without a language barrier,” Mr Al Abri said.
“This in addition to facilitating registration procedures to the public through simplified and easy forms and raising litigants’ legal awareness via interactive forms of the statements of claims, to ensure access to the legal materials related to the subject of the dispute.”
Authorities have also created bi-lingual language guides to explain complex legal terms and used infographics in an effort to help people understand court processes.
Last November, in a first for the region, Abu Dhabi introduced a rule that all documents in civil and commercial cases should be presented to non-Arabic defendants in English.
“Our courts system is going hand in hand with the ambitious economic plans of our leaders,” Mr Al Abri said at the time.
“A bilingual court will assure clarity, transparency and certainty for non-Arabic parties to a litigation, this is an essential step for improving non-Arabic speaking litigants’ access to justice and for enabling them to make better use of our court services.”