lawyers - Michal Fattal - August 3 2011
A lawyers conference in Jerusalem in June. Photo by Michal Fattal
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Israel ranks first in the number of lawyers and 43rd in the number of judges, relative to the country's population. It is also in 21st place in the number of civil cases filed, an internal report by Israel's Courts Administration stated.

The report compared Israeli data from last year to comparable information from 55 other Western and Middle Eastern countries.

The information provides a statistical portrait of the handling of civil cases at the trial court level, but does not include domestic relations or labor matters. Last year, according to the report, Israel had an average of eight judges per 100,000 inhabitants. At the top of the country list by this measure was the tiny principality of Monaco, with 64 judges per 100,000 people. The Czech Republic had 29 judges per 100,000; Russia had 24; Ireland had seven; and the Palestinian Authority an average of slightly fewer than five judges per 100,000 people.

The 2010 statistics reflect a relative shortage of judges in Israel, taking into consideration the country's population, the number of lawyers and the volume of civil files in the judicial system. On the other hand, Israel tops the list in the number of attorneys, with 585 per 100,000 residents. At the other end of the list, Scotland had five lawyers per 100,000 people.

This year, 14 new judge positions were added to the Israeli court system, with another 20 on the way this year and next. Priority is being given to additional domestic relations and traffic court judges. Since Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch ordered court hearings to be postponed only under extenuating circumstances, the number of postponed sessions has been cut in half.

In contrast to the other statistics, the volume of court litigation in Israel is not among the highest, despite the relatively high number of lawyers. When it comes to lawsuits, the jurisdiction listed in the report as the most litigious is New York state, with more than 9,000 civil cases and small claims files per 100,000 people. Israel ranks 21st among 34 reported jurisdictions, with 2,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

About 12,000 court cases and other requests per day are filed on average in Israel, and 18,000 court decisions are rendered on an average day. There are an average of 8,500 court hearings a day in Israel.

In second place in the rankings for litigiousness after New York is Russia, with 7,000 cases per 100,000 residents. The length of time it takes to litigate cases in Israel is not particularly stellar compared to the other places surveyed, however. Among the 36 jurisdictions for which figures were reported, Israel is ranked 27th, with an average of 346 days to handle civil lawsuits.

By comparison, it takes an average of 889 days to litigate a case from start to finish in Malta, which was ranked last on the list by this measure. Russia, on the other hand, was first, at an average of 14 days.