During Monday’s meeting of the Finance Committee on the Justice Ministry’s budget, committee members called on Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) and the Court Administration to work towards cutting court procedures short, for the benefit of Israel’s citizens.
In response, Minister Shaked said “The load on the judicial system is immense, and we are dealing with it. However, there are causes for this, such as excessive legislation by the Knesset, which also adds to the workload of the system. I would prefer that the Knesset increase and tighten its supervision over the Government’s work and deal less with intensive legislation.”
Minister Shaked told the committee that the judicial system suffers from a shortage of manpower and that the Court Administration is devising a plan to shorten the time courts spend on each case. Each year, Minister Shaked noted, 50,000 new cases are opened. “This is a huge amount, by any standard,” she said.
Justice Michael Spitzer, director of the Court Administration, said that while it is possible to raise the expenses involved in going to court in order to reduce the workload, “we must remember that there is value in the accessibility of the judicial system.”
Justice Spitzer noted that in Finland a judge handles 3-4 cases a week, while in Israel judges handle 8-10 cases a day.
“We are talking about a total of 850,000 cases a year, and another three million requests filed with the system by citizens, attorneys, companies, etc. And only 700 judges are dealing with all of it. In addition, the Knesset increases the burden on the entire system,” he said.
MK Micky Rosenthal (Zionist Camp) urged the Justice Ministry to “make things more difficult for insurance companies, which systematically turn to the courts in order to delay procedures.”
He called to increase these firms’ legal costs and “not accept every case or every request.”
MK Rosenthal also called for specific legislation against false lawsuits. “The current expenses are ridiculous, so people just sue, because it’s possible and convenient,” he said.
Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) asked the director of the Court Administration to transfer to the committee a document detailing the amount of time the Israeli judicial system spends on cases compared with the situation in other OECD countries.