Absence of Litigants as per the Law of Litigation Before Sharia Courts

By Trainee Lawyer: Abdul Elah Al-Ghanamy

This article addresses the topic of the absence of litigants from the hearings to explore the actions taken in favor of each party whether in the absence of the plaintiff or the defendant. The multiplicity of defendants topic will also be addressed in this article.

Firstly: actions to be taken in the absence of the plaintiff without an excuse accepted by the court:

If the plaintiff fails to attend any of the case hearings, the judge shall have the right to dismiss the case. The present defendant shall also have the right to request from the judge to dismiss the case. The defendant may also request for the judge not to dismiss the case and render judgment on the substantive aspect of the case if it is suitable for adjudication depending on the condition and the proofs provided thereof in case the defendant reckons the judgment would be in their favor[1]. If the court renders its judgment, it will be deemed in absentia of the plaintiff. The plaintiff may then request the continuity of hearing in case of the first dismissed suit by virtue of a brief to be submitted to the court administration or the plaintiff`s statement in the minutes. The dismissed suit will not affect the previous actions but rather builds thereon in case of re-hearing. In case of the second and any subsequent dismissed suit, the plaintiff must provide the Supreme Court with a copy of a re-hearing petition attached to the case documents. If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case, it may set a date not to hear the case prior thereto[2].

Second: actions to be taken in the absence of the defendant:

If the defendant fails to attend the first hearing for the lack of service thereon in person or to their attorney, the hearing is adjourned until such service is made. If the service is made on the defendant in person or their attorney and they fail to attended the first hearing; if the service is made but not in person and they fail to attend the second hearing; or if they attend any hearing and fail to attend then while the hearing is required to be adjourned, no further service shall be necessary unless in the presence of an obstacle to litigation such as the stoppage or the termination of the case or in the presence of separation such as a dismissed suit where the actions of service must then be taken. The judgment may be in presence or in absentia based on the service after separation. If the defendant who has no known residence or elected domicile in the Kingdom fails to attend after the service is made as per the Provisions of Paragraph (I) of Article (17) the Law of Procedure before Sharia Courts[3], the service shall be undertaken by the Ministry of Interior as follows:

  • The court shall send a letter to the Emirate of the Region, the Province, the division of the court or the authority to be determined by the Emirate or the Province, a case in which the competent authority, as the case may be, shall inform the Court of the service or any other information available therewith.
  • The Circuit may announce the summoning of the intended person in a local newspaper or via any other means it deems appropriate for achieving the sought goal.
  • If it is difficult to service notice on a person with unknown address or if it refuses to attend after the service, the court may order the stoppage of its services with the government authorities, if so required.

[1]In some cases, it may be in the interest of the defendant to render judgment in its favor such as the dismissal of case for the insufficiency of proofs submitted by the Plaintiff; for the lack of jurisdiction by the court depending on the types of jurisdiction; or for filing against party lacking standing.

[2] As per Articles 55 and 56 of the Law of Litigation before Sharia Courts.

[3] As per Article 57 of the Law of Litigation before Sharia Courts.

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