January 24, 2022

Speaking at 11th World Litigation Forum – Recent Developments in Transnational Litigation

Our partner Dr. Fatma Salah was invited to speak at the 11th World Litigation Forum that took place in Dubai on the 19th and 20th of  January. She joined an esteemed panel of international experts to discuss the recent developments in transnational litigation.

Dr. Fatma shared her insight on how different jurisdictions responded to the pandemic, the resulted backlog of court cases, the expected post-pandemic litigation boom, and the challenges in the remote court environment and the improvement of the court system in Egypt.

Courts Go Remote

No doubt that Covid has prompted a rapid shift from traditional court processes to an online mode. The international court responses to COVID-19 differ drastically. While courts in some jurisdictions already had existing online filing systems and were, therefore, more prepared for remote working arrangements. Others rapidly managed to adopt supportive technologies to enable video conferencing and the exchange of documentation using web-based platforms such as Teams, Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts and WebEx.  However, in many jurisdictions, the justice sector with antiquated court systems powered struggled to cope with a world where social distancing and remote arrangements were required. They struggled with video conferencing, including data privacy and security-related concerns.

In Egypt, the need for relatively normal operation of the justice system is highlighted by the distinctive situation of Egypt where judges had been already overwhelmed before the pandemic by the increased case numbers due to the large population and a recent increase in work that has arisen from changed economic and business conditions.

Prompted by the pandemic, Egypt launched late 2021 a court and case management digital platform marking a significant turning point in Egypt’s transformation into “Digital Justice”. The platform is Microsoft Dynamics 365 based, and it will be officially put into effect across all economic courts in Egypt during Q1 of 2022. The platform includes legal case filing, assignment, scheduling, distribution, transfers, management, and others.

Court Backlog

Each year in Egypt more than 25 million cases are filed in the national courts. When adding a public health crisis into that equation, it is easy to see why the backlog situation may become much more difficult to manage.  Cases will continue to mount as COVID will keep fueling litigation. With new waves of COVID-19 continuing to surge around the world, pandemic-related litigation will likely continue.  

Dr. Fatma Salah highlighted some of the practices that courts can adopt to address backlog including:

  1. Virtual and hybrid hearings – Promote using online hearings’ platform when available and appropriate.
  2. Prioritizing – Prioritize cases that need immediate actions.
  3. Dismissal Dockets – Use of dismissal dockets to clear cases that are not progressing due to agreement being announced but no final order being entered or lack of engagement by parties.
  4. Increased Court Hours – Provide additional time for hearings by increasing hours available.
  5. Mediation – Utilize mediation for cases that have requested a large amount of the courts time for hearings. This may prompt settlements and agreements. Court are no longer perceived to be at the center of the justice system. Whilst courts play a critical role in maintaining the rule of law and also in safeguarding rights, the reality is that more people in commercial disputes resolve their differences using forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) or Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). Such processes have become part of the access to justice equation or in general, the justice ecosystem.

Challenges in a Remote Court Environment

Despite the general benefits for continued court services, the use of internet and other online technologies in the justice system has presented interesting questions around its impact on the right to due process as well as the ability of the judges to assess litigant or witness credibility.

Virtual hearings can diminish, to an extent, the ability to assess litigant or witness credibility, to read behavior and/or body language. Some reasons include poor camera quality, bad lighting, unstable internet connections, and, perhaps whether someone was coaching the witness in the background. However, there are remedies, such as having the witness pan their camera around the room before testifying or asking that no one else be present, overall, these types of matters can raise appellate issues later if not dealt with at the outset.

In relation to the right to due process, all modes of dispute resolution including online dispute resolution (ODR) must respect the right of access to justice and the right to a fair trial which are among the fundamental human rights and are essential to the rule of law and the principle of equality before the law.

Due process entails the right of the litigants to have access to procedures, the right to have access to information and locations used in the administration of justice, the right to be tried without undue delay and the right of vulnerable people and those with special needs to effective participation. Courts therefore are required to:

  • Ensure parties receive proper notice of a case. This includes adapting statutes and court rules to allow for electronic service and other tech-friendly options.
  • Include plain language procedural and substantive legal information for all parties at various stages of their cases, so that users can access easy-to-understand and relevant information in real time.  court users need access to plain language legal information directly from the court website or court annexed platform easily and without having to toggle between multiple websites or additional sources of information.
  • Implement technology that is designed to meet the needs of all users and reduce barriers to access taking into consideration that court users should include not only judges, clerk and court staff, but also attorneys, self-represented litigants, researchers, and the public.
  • Look to the impact the innovation would have on underserved and vulnerable communities with limited access to internet and technology tools.
  • Provide alternatives such as telephone or SMS texting services, to ensure information is available to the broadest range of communities, including those without internet access.
  • Avoid requiring users to pay additional costs to use technology or remote services and streamline the process for obtaining civil fee waivers.
  • Train the members of the judiciary to enable them to use the new technologies appropriately and conduct hearings without disruption.


The pandemic forced courts to embrace online platforms like never before. It pushed the judicial system to modify decades-old court procedures put in place before laptops, email, text messages, or even the Internet – many times even the mechanical typewriter.

The COVID-19 pandemic was described as not the disruption courts wanted, but it is the disruption that courts needed to re-imagine and embrace new ways of operating and to transform courts into a more accessible, transparent, efficient, and user-friendly branch of government.


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