The Jordan Times
AMMAN — The Cabinet on Monday approved 14 draft laws and by-laws to improve the performance of the judiciary.
The new pieces of legislation were drafted to enhance the judiciary’s role in the promotion of the rule of law in a way that ensures transparency in decision making and quick litigation, improves the Kingdom’s business environment and enhances the rights of citizens, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
These bills, which the Council of Ministers endorsed and decided to send to the Lower House, came in implementation of recommendations of the Royal Committee for Developing the Judiciary and Enhancing the Rule of Law.
The committee, formed by His Majesty King Abdullah in 2016, was mandated with articulating a strategy to address the challenges facing the judicial reform process and improve legislation.
The committee presented its findings to the King in February, proposing changes to 13 laws and the introduction of four new bills and by-laws.
Justice Minister Awad Mashagbeh noted that King Abdullah ordered the formation of the panel following his sixth Discussion Paper «Rule of Law and Civil State».
Mashagbeh said that the laws endorsed by the Cabinet on Monday ensure protecting the rights of citizens, including limiting detention, while the suggested provisions include community service as an alternative to jail sentences.
1. A bill amending the Judicial Independence Law, aimed at achieving financial independence for the Judicial Council, so as to guarantee it would meet its needs, through allocating an independent annual budget for it and separating it from the Justice Ministry.
The draft law stipulates establishing a secretariat general for the Judicial Council and tasking it with running its affairs and budget.
The bill also aims at ensuring equal opportunities to appointing judges and their independence as they perform their jobs, and enhance the judicial inspection process.
2. A bill amending the Judicial Execution Law, which aims at facilitating procedures in enforcing and updating rulings in civil lawsuits.
It also grants the judge tasked with enforcing rulings the power to order the seizure of mobile and immobile assets before the end of the period set in the execution notice in cases where debtors can evade the implementation of court rulings and to limit obstacles that may hinder execution procedures.
The law vests in the Execution Department the power to save data related to judgement enforcement suits on electronic means, where hard copies extracted from electronic devices have the same power as the original documents after having the department›s seal and the specialised employee›s signature.
3. A draft law amending the Criminal Procedure Law, which grants the court the power to hold successive hearings at short intervals and out of the official working hours to guarantee swift rulings in lawsuits and impose penalties on litigants who use malicious methods to prolong procedures.
Under the draft law, modern technologies can be used in all judicial procedures to help speed up reaching final rulings. It also stipulates alternatives to imprisonment, such as community service.
It also includes the power to add specialised courtrooms to look into cybercrimes.
4. A draft law amending the Civil Procedure Law, aimed at facilitating litigation through streamlining the judicial procedures followed in civil courts.
The bill is meant to cancel several procedures that prolong litigation, without affecting the rights of litigants to a just trial.
5. A bill amending the Jordan Bar Association Law, under which a record shall be made for attorneys who are members of the association and reside outside the Kingdom.
The amendments oblige lawyers to identify their wages in their lawsuits in written contracts with clients, risking legal accountability if they fail to abide by this rule, which was added to achieve transparency and protect rights, according to Petra’s report.
The bill also grants the committee supervising the association›s elections the power to re-run the president and council members elections for a second round at a later date, rather than in the same election session as the case is in the existing law.
6. A bill amending the Criminal Court Law, aimed at achieving justice and expediting criminal suits through banning filing personal actions with the court.
The bill stipulates that filing civil lawsuits ensuing from the crimes looked into by the Criminal Court at the relevant civil courts.
7. A draft law amending the State Lawsuit Management; under this bill, the Civil Attorney General and his assistants will be responsible for running an independent department at the Justice Ministry that guarantees quick rulings in civil lawsuits related to the Treasury and other public departments.
8. The Cabinet also endorsed a draft law amending the Mediation Law for settling civil disputes, which aims at accrediting mediation procedures followed by private mediators and allows retrieving paid fees partially or wholly.
9. A draft law amending the Evidence Law, aimed at deploying modern technologies to serve the litigation process to modernise legal services.
The bill also aims at granting litigants in civil lawsuits the right to file written testimonies and it endorses fax messages, telexes, emails and similar modern tools as exhibits.
10- The Magistrate Courts by-law for 2017, which is aimed at easing the litigation and expand the jurisdiction of these courts and revisit the contestation process related to them.
11. A draft law amending the Formation of Civil Courts, aimed at regulating the specialties of judges and allowing expansion in specialised courtrooms within the first-instance and appeal courts in Amman, in addition to ensuring swift litigation, especially in lawsuits that have a direct impact on investment and economy.
Under the bill, no civil case can be filed with the Cassation Court if the total claim involved is less than JD10,000, instead of JD5,000 under the law currently in effect.
12. A draft by-law amending the existing regulation governing the work of notaries public. The suggested piece of legislation stipulates the criteria to accept veteran judges and lawyers to serve as specialised notaries.
13. A draft by-law to streamline the courts’ resort to experts in the cases under examination. The regulation details the criteria for selection and financial compensation.
14. A draft by-law amending the by-law on the Jordan Judicial Institute, allowing the agency to attract top achievers in local law schools to complete their studies there.