High court fees in Israeli courts deter Palestinians from filing compensation claims

November 13, 2011 at 4:11 pm Leave a comment

Haaretz reports that dozens of Palestinians who lost relatives or got injured by the actions of Israeli military cannot access courts of law because of excessive court fees.

During the 2008-2009 Gaza War (aka Operation Cast Lead) Mohammed Abdel-Dayim lost a son and three nephews. His position is that the young men had been innocent victims of the millitary conflict. Seeking for justice he filed a compensation claim in Israel. Abdel-Dayim whose annual income is under $6 000 was asked by an Israeli court to put $22 000 as a guarantee that the winnning party will retrieve its costs.  Considering the complicated factual and legal character of cases for compensation of wrongful death, the legal fees can add up to significant amounts. There is no standard schedule for determining the amount of the court fees so it is up to the individual judges to decide. What judges do is to assess ex-ante the chances of success – the less likely the claim will be successfull, the higher the fee.

In such circumstances high court fees are significant barrier to access to justice. Mohammed Abdel-Dayim, for instance will have to drop the claim if the fee is not reduced on appeal. On the other side, representatives of the Israeli judiciary alledge that the court fees have a specific purpose – to deter frivolous claims. According to the Israeli Supreme Court the court fee has to reflect the financial situation of the plaintif/s.  However, the decision in the case of Abdel-Dayim suggests that the court was not very sensible to the plaintiffs situation.

The strained relationships between Israel and the Palestinian authorities do not help to secure better access to justice. Citizens of countries with which Israel has enforcement agreements do not have to post hefty court fees before legal procedures. Thus Palestinians, many of whom live on meager resource, are asked disproportionate court fees.

Read the whole text of the article “Palestinians say Israel imposing steep court fees to prevent lawsuits” here

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Entry filed under: Access to Justice, Costs of justice, Israel.

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