CAIRO: Lawyers nationwide suspended their criminal court cases on Tuesday, in protest at the increase in lawsuit fees.
The Lawyers’ Syndicate called for the one-day strike after the People’s Assembly (PA) approved a new draft law raising the fees for filing lawsuits 10-fold.
The draft law was proposed by the government in January.
Some lawyers argue that the new amendments will make “the legal system only affordable for rich citizens, lawyer Amir Salem told Daily News Egypt.
According to Salem, this change is “unconstitutional and poses a huge financial burden on most Egyptians “who live under the poverty line.
Salem also argued that imposing this increase comes at an inopportune time with the global financial crisis taking a toll on world markets.
“Of all commodities and services, the government chose to increase the lawsuit fees, which should have been free of charge in the first place, he said, “a just, affordable legal system is every citizen’s right, and that right should be offered by the government for free.
On Sunday, lawyers protested against the law in front of the Cabinet building in Downtown Cairo and chanted slogans against the law, the minister of justice as well as Ahmed Ezz, an influential NDP MP recognized as a main advocate of the law.
In an official statement released this week, the Lawyers’ Syndicate vowed to continue fighting the law.
Fathi Ragab, deputy chairman of the Shoura Council, previously told Daily News Egypt that “according to Article 23, those who cannot afford the [lawsuit] fees will be exempt, provided that the court verifies their claims.
Based on the new law, fees will range from LE 10-50 an increase from the old law’s LE 1-5. The old law was issued in 1944 and had not undergone any amendments since.
The court’s share of the demanded financial compensation will remain as is at 1.5-5 percent. Many had protested a potential increase in this percentage, arguing it would deter people from demanding justice.
The Ministry of Finance will be the main beneficiary of the increase, followed by the Ministry of Justice.