Abu Dhabi: Revolutionising the way court hearings are carried out, the world’s first state-of-the-art digital courtroom was unveiled in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, with the new system set to save both plaintiffs and respondents time and money.
Launched by the Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts (ADGM Courts) — the independent courts of ADGM — the digital courtroom will have the authority to handle civil and commercial disputes between different parties. With its digitised platform, the courtroom will not make use of any paper as is traditionally done during court cases, and instead will use digital screens that will display all documents relevant to the court hearing. Both plaintiffs and respondents will be able to upload all of their documents through an online portal of ADGM Courts, with the information being accessible to all parties before and during the court hearing.
“Technology and innovation have been disrupting every aspect of our lives and the judiciary sector is no exception. The best innovations to come out of this sector are those that allow us to creatively manage the growing demand for transparency, information, speed and effectiveness,” said Ahmad Al Sayegh, Minister of State and Chairman of the ADGM Courts.
“Our mandate is to be a financial centre that supports international rules and regulations and builds a core ecosystem that allows businesses to flourish. We believe that the new digital courtroom will firmly position Abu Dhabi on the forefront of digital litigation, setting standards for countries around the world to follow,” he added, explaining how Abu Dhabi’s business environment will benefit.
“The presence of the digital courtroom will pave the way for many business opportunities, bringing an influx of new expertise and professionals, and will strengthen the overall economic growth of the UAE,” Al Sayegh said.
Linda Fitz Alan, registrar and chief executive of ADGM Courts said another benefit of the digital courtroom was that not all parties would be required to be physically present during a hearing. “We can do the court hearing by video conferencing, not every party has to be present in the courtroom. In fact, everybody can be on a screen if that’s the most efficient way.
“The judge overseeing the case will be the only person who has to be present inside the digital courtroom during the hearing because we are a public court. For anyone else — the lawyer, plaintiff and respondent — if there’s no particular need for it, they can all be on screen in different places,” she added.
Commenting on the time frame from when a case is registered until it goes to court, Alan said it would range from two weeks to a month.
“We have some rules that determine the steps that need to be taken before coming to court, but essentially once a case is registered it will be brought to the court within 14 days to a month after which the judge will begin managing the case.”
Alan also explained how all parties would be updated in real time about any new information connected to their case thanks to paperless forms of information exchanges.
“The moment something happens on the digital court file, parties receive an SMS and email letting them know immediately. So it does not matter where you are, you have immediate notice of something happening in a case.
“Traditionally parties needed to print documents and serve them on their opposing party, we are using this platform to achieve that service so you no longer need to spend any money on couriers or time to serve these documents. This portal works for you,” she added.
Where to start?
To register a case and all appropriate documents, a plaintiff must go to www.adgmcourts.com. They can register an account and proceed to use the online portal to file their case.
Types of cases
The court will only hear civil and commercial cases.
How does it work?
Once a party gains access to the online portal, they can electronically file all of their necessary documents from anywhere in the world and at any time. All of the uploaded information will be accessible to the lawyers and the judge. Any updates or changes made will be notified in real time to all parties.
What law does the digital courtroom use?
Under ADGM Courts, English common law is adopted.