DOHA: Despite Qatar’s galloping population rate, the number of cases coming up before courts is fast declining.
The latest data released by the Supreme Judicial Council show that cases, including those reaching criminal courts, have declined significantly.
The population grew by 33 percent between 2009 and 2013, however, cases before courts dropped by nearly 6 percent during the period.
For instance, cases in the courts in 2009 totalled 85,911. The data shows total cases in the courts in 2013 dropped to 81,169, despite a huge increase in the population rate.
The total number of cases that reached the courts in 2011 was 86,980 and dropped to 81,452 in 2012 and to 81,169 in 2013. Between 2011 and 2013, the population rate grew by 25 percent.
Except civil suits and cases related to administrative disputes, cases across various segments came down in 2013. The number of civil cases increased to 16,780 from 15,394 in the previous year.
The total number of registered civil suits, which also cover labour disputes, was 24,119 in 2011. The number marginally dropped to 24,100 in 2012 before edging up to 26,167 in 2013.
Family cases related to inheritance and children have been growing over the past few years. The number rose from 5,251 in 2011 to 5,351 in 2012, but dropped slightly to 5,345 in 2013.
However, a section of legal experts were of the view that the data does not reflect reality.
They attributed the steady decline in the number of cases to the government’s decision to restrict visas to certain countries.
“It’s true that Qatar’s population rate is growing at an exponential rate. But the fact is there is a huge decrease in expatriate family visas.
“Single workers make up a large percentage of new population inflow and cases like civil suits, which make up a major chunk of total litigation, hardly emerge from them,” said a lawyer.
Dr Saud Al Azba, leading Qatari criminal lawyer, said: “I haven’t seen the council’s latest data. There may be a drop in the number of cases. Given my experience, I hardly believe there is a significant drop in the number of criminal cases.”
Another leading Qatari lawyer said: “Ideally, the number of cases should have gone up with the increasing population.
But what’s really happening is a reversal. There are a number of reasons.”
“Qatar’s judicial processes are quite slow and it takes too long before cases come to the courts. This may be one reason for the declining number of cases at various courts,” said Fawas Yousef Al Sada. The undue delay in the judicial system is making litigants opt for out of court settlements. Qatar is increasingly witnessing such settlements, he added.