UAE’s first one-day court for petty cases is an immediate success

In its first month since launching on January 1, the first-of-its-kind court in the country, which handles civil and commercial cases up to the value of Dh20,000, reached 90 verdicts.

RAS AL KHAIMAH // A pioneering one-day court is bringing swift ends to petty cases, freeing up other courtrooms for more weighty matters.

The court, which handles civil and commercial cases to the value of Dh20,000, has reached 90 verdicts since it was launched on January 1, with several plaintiffs awarded payouts the same day.

Chancellor Ahmed Al Khatri, chairman of RAK Courts, said the success of the court had exceeded expectations.

“A big percentage of cases not only received rulings on the same day but the ruling was also executed on the spot,” Mr Al Khatri said. “Some people got excited and paid what the court ordered them to immediately.

Plaintiffs go directly to the judge’s office at RAK Courts to press charges, summon their opponents and receive a verdict as quickly as possible.

Those in whose favour the court rules incur no charges, with the judges deciding on what the other parties pay.

No parties have objected to any rulings so far and plaintiffs are even agreeing to settle for less than what they asked.

In one case, a man who claimed Dh20,000 from another for damages caused to his car during an accident was asked to present proof of the value of the damages. The damages amounted to Dh11,000.

“So after negotiations he settled for Dh9,000, and when the judge asked the accused when he would pay, he said ‘right now’,” Mr Al Khatri said.

“He went to the ATM machine behind the courtroom, withdrew the money and the case was closed.”

After a final verdict in other courts the case goes to the executive court, which studies the ruling again and then orders how it should be executed, taking even more time.

Ayesha Al Bidwawi, an Emirati housewife, said her year-long dispute was recently settled in less than an hour at the new court.

Ms Al Bidwawi and her husband had requested Dh18,000 in compensation from the owner of a car wash after one of his staff members crashed their car.

They tried to settle it out of court but the other party had been stalling payment for a year.

“The judge and the notary public tried hard to settle the issue and we did,” said Ms Al Bidwawi, 25. “The total he has to pay is Dh18,000 but today he only paid Dh1,500 and he is supposed to pay the rest within a week.”

The judge said that if he failed to do so they could raise it to the executive department, which would summon him to court and order him to pay up.

The new court has three times as many settled disputes as others.

Of the 90 verdicts it issued last month, 67 were civil disputes and 23 were commercial, with an average of three cases a day.

A typical court in RAK issues about 15 verdicts a month but the one-day court is dealing with cases in as little as 28 minutes, with the longest so far being three and a half hours.

“We discovered that one day at this court is more productive than three other typical courts,” Mr Al Khatri said.

The idea for the court came about after Sheikh Mohammed bin Saud Al Qasimi, Crown Prince of RAK, ordered six teams to investigate ways to improve the judicial system.

“We used to call the accused party from my office and the same procedure was carried out, so we thought why not allocate a special court to fulfil this role?” Mr Al Khatri said.