The procedure involves using a Global Positioning System (GPS) installed in the cars of court officials going out to issue subpoenas or other notifications. This also helps to overcome the lack of street names and addresses in some parts of the country.
The court officials are given details of litigants’ whereabouts in the form of sketches produced by others involved in the legal matter, in addition to information such as house numbers, names of neighborhoods, streets and landmarks.
Hussein Al-Fifi, deputy president of the King Abdullah Judicial Development Project, said the system is based on Google maps. Once the court official reaches the residence of the litigant there will be a signal confirming the location, he said.
Lawyer Hamoud Alnajim said this would ease the work of court officials. “The mission itself is difficult because sometimes the name of the street or neighborhood is not clear. Maps facilitate the whole process,” he said.
“The procedure will speed up litigation. Many lawsuits are delayed because one or both of the litigants are not notified about the date and time of the session, so there is a growing backlog of cases,” he said.
In terms of a royal decree issued in 2003, judges must ensure that litigants are aware that they have to appear in court, with court officials going out physically to carry out this task.
The new system requires that two copies of a notification are delivered, the original and a photocopy. If there are several litigants, more photocopies are made. The court officials must deliver the notification at a litigant’s place of residence, or work.
If this is not possible, then the court officials must deliver the notification to a person living with the litigant, the chief of the neighborhood, the police station, or the head of the tribe.
Alnajim said that the ministry is looking at other ways to force people to appear in court, which includes blocking a person’s ability to withdraw money from an ATM, with approval from the Saudi Monetary Agency. He described this as a “brilliant idea.”
Alnajim said the more problematic issue in any litigation process is when the whereabouts of the people involved are not known.
Mohammad Al-Tamimi, a lawyer, said one of the biggest challenges facing court officials includes litigants changing their addresses, either to avoid the court process, or for another reason. This becomes especially difficult in inheritance cases when more than one person has to be informed.
Another challenge, said Al-Tamimi, involves commercial courts because registered mail is used to inform litigants, not court officials.