Kuwait sees unusual surge in court cases

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KUWAIT CITY, Feb 1: The Supreme Judicial Council, the Ministry of Justice, and the National Assembly have failed to take necessary measures to address the substantial surge in court cases which reached from 500 in 2011 to an overwhelming 1.2 million in 2019 and the trend persists, reports Al-Jarida daily. In 2023, an astounding 1,572,341 cases were recorded by the courts, indicating an increase of 400,000 within just four years. This surge underscores a significant uptick in legal matters within Kuwait. An examination of the statistics from the past year reveals that the Court of First Instance bore the brunt of case registrations, handling 1,522,697 cases. Among them, criminal cases numbered 934,705, civil cases reached 554,240, and family cases amounted to 33,752.

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The Court of Appeal circuits processed 53,282 ordinary and family appeal cases, while the Court of Cassation dealt with 21,771 cases. Despite the cumulative appeals reaching around 70,000 before the Court of Cassation, only 396 judges were available across its circuits. Intriguingly, each judge in the Court of Cassation faced an annual workload of about 3,840 cases, averaging 320 per month and 80 per week.

The Court of Appeals had 334 judges handling 53,282 cases annually, averaging 160 cases per judge annually. Considering the substantial workload faced by the Court of Cassation, with 21,771 cases distributed among 87 judges, each judge dealt with an average of 250 cases annually and 11 cases per month. This raises concerns about the strain on judges, particularly considering their responsibility to monitor the integrity of rulings and apply legal provisions.

The surge in appeals, exceeding 16,500 in 2019 and rising to 21,771 in 2023, prompts a critical examination of the adequacy of the current number of judges. Despite the court deciding on a significant number of appeals, the increase in the number of judges has been minimal, posing challenges to efficiency. The evident backlog and inefficiency in the justice system, exacerbated by outdated procedures and a lack of legislative development in the last 45 years, underscore the pressing need for a comprehensive overhaul. With 730 judges responsible for handling over one and a half million cases, a reconsideration of the appointment and recruitment of judges is imperative to ensure a more modern and efficient judicial system that aligns with contemporary technological advancements and addresses the longstanding issues in the litigation process.

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