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Building a Family Law Court Judgments Database


The Palestinian Authority took several legislative and institutional measures to modernise the judiciary and to create new courts. Nonetheless, the laws establishing the organisation of the Ecclesiastical courts for the Christian Communities and Family Courts for Moslems dating back to the Ottoman rule and the British Mandate period remained in force.

The jurisdiction of family courts compliments the regular judiciary (in civil, administrative and criminal matters). According to the Palestinian Basic Law family courts are responsible for all personal status matters, which affect every Palestinian citizen from the date of his birth until his death. The family courts have original exclusice jurisdiction in the following matters: marriage, divorce, alimony, inheritance, kinship, adoption and endwoments.
In order to modernize the family courts and introduce new technologies and facilitate the services it provides to the public, the courts started to use computers in carrying out their daily functions. A central computer network is still to be established in order to connect all courts together. A new archiving system shall be developed in order to protect the historical documents and old files giving the fact that the family courts have a large number of registries and documents which are a hundred years old. Such registries document the various social, economic, and political aspects of the Palestinian history.

To achieve the strategic goal of classifying court judgments and providing easy access to these documents to the general public, members of the Family Courts Judicial Council approached the Institute of Law in order to compile all judgments related to family matters and make them accessible on the Institute of Law’s Al-Muqtafi - Legislation and Court Judgments Database. For this purpose a committee was appointed by the Upper Council for Shari’a Jurisdictions. The committee consists of 5 family court judges, who will be working during the lifetime of the project with the Institute of Law’s team


Overall objectives:
The overall objective of the project is to foster access to legal information as an integral part of the rule of law, stimulate reform initiatives, particularly in matters of family law, and increase professionalism and accountability of the Family Court Judges.

Specific objectives:
1) To provide legal professionals and ordinary citizens with access to unpublished contemporary legal information and have better accessibility to information regarding court judgments in matters of personal status.
2) To elucidate the rationale of the family courts judgments through experts and by subjecting them to analysis, criticism, and evaluation
3) To build a modern and easily accessible Family Court Judgments Database as a new component within Al-Muqtafi
4) To enhance the capacity of the family courts’ staff and judges, in managing and dealing with the cases.
5) To disseminate the outputs of the project to the project’s direct beneficiaries and the wider public

1 January 2011- 31 December 2012


Representative Office of Denmark, Ramallah


Legal Researchers, Technical Team. Administrative / Support staff, Other (Contractual Services)


Legal and Judicial Component

  • Compiling and converting approx. 10,000 court judgments.
  • The developed database will be enriched by the commentaries that the legal experts will provide. In addition, the database will include legal principles. These principles will be extracted from leading cases that will be selected and classified through the research team

Technical Component

  • Typing, photocopying and scanning. The team will retype the compiled judgments, photocopy and scan the judgments and convert the typed judgments into XML.
  • All converted documents will be edited.
  • Development of a “Kashaf”, which would serve as an electronic aided classification and indexing tool for judgements
  • Full Text data entry. All converted documents will be entered into the database.
  • Linking referential information to the legislation database.
  • Translation of the initial information of the judgments into English.
  • The database will be consisting of two connected databases at the end of the project; the first deals with the Palestinian regulations since the Othman period and the other dealing with the family courts judgements since 1994.
  • Translation: All referrential information of the judgments will be translated into English.
  • Improvement of the structure, form, and contents of legal texts, whether in legislation or judicial judgments. Information management leads towards instituting a system suitable for case file management and help in building a renewal of legal culture engaged in constructive criticism and constant revision. Ultimately, this can be very instrumental in furthering the judge’s message of justice to the public, improving the efficiency of the judicial authority, and in pressing for active public participation in the legislative policymaking.