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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Making shariah courts efficient will reduce costs, says lawyer

Shariah lawyer Nizam Bashir says shariah courts must emulate civil courts and have a fixed deadline for cases to be resolved.
PETALING JAYA: A lawyer has urged shariah courts to be more efficient in handling cases so as to make it easier for people to afford shariah lawyers.
Commenting on the fact that 50% to 70% of the Legal Aid Department’s cases involved shariah cases, shariah lawyer Nizam Bashir said engaging the services of shariah lawyers need not be an expensive affair.
“Firstly, maintenance orders, especially those affecting children, ought to be enforced with more rigour by the courts,” he told FMT.
“Secondly, there must be a fixed deadline for cases to be resolved by the shariah courts.
“Lawyers now know that civil cases take six to nine months to complete. The shariah courts, I am sure, are equally equipped to meet the same benchmark in completing a case.”
A Bernama report earlier quoted Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said as saying the Legal Aid Department’s case registration statistics in the first quarter of this year showed that 50-70% were shariah cases, mostly involving divorce.
The minister said there was a need for the department to scrutinise applications from the public to ensure only those who qualified were accorded services.
Nizam said one of the reasons why divorce cases often involved the Legal Aid Department was because of the nature of divorce cases.
“When divorce takes place, the resources in a household must be reallocated.
“Costs that used to be shared – such as payments to be made for a house or a car – must now be borne by each spouse and this takes a toll on the personal finances of each spouse.”
He said in some cases, there might also have been mismanagement of household finances.
“This most likely also led to a breakdown in the marriage in the first place.
“Therefore, trying to allocate or keep aside money to engage a shariah lawyer is often a luxury that not all parties can afford.
“Consequently, it is not unnatural for whichever spouse to apply for legal aid to minimise expenses.”- FMT

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