settlements - Nir Kafri - October 22 2010
Construction in the settlement of Yakir after the freeze’s end in September 2010. Photo by Nir Kafri
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A Jerusalem judge recently ordered the courts administration to pay compensation to litigants in one of his cases for ostensibly wasting their time.

Jerusalem Magistrate's Court Judge Yitzhak Shimoni was the adjudicator in a property-line dispute between landowners in Beit Horon, outside Jerusalem. In order to hear the litigants' claims and see the disputed area for himself, he requested a security detail from the courts to accompany him to the community, which lies over the Green Line. The request apparently never reached the right department, however, a hitch that was only discovered on the day of the scheduled visit.

Since many of the court security guards were tied up protecting a hearing in the case of Sheikh Ra'ad Salah, head of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, a security detail for Shimoni could not be dispatched on the spot.

After trying to find a solution for nearly an hour and a half, Shimoni called off the meeting with the landowners. He later decided to compensate the litigants for their lost time and pain and suffering with NIS 4,500 total of state funds.

In its appeal of Shimoni's ruling in the District Court, the courts administration wrote: "Members of the judicial branch are not authorized to levy monetary fines on the Courts' Directorate and give them to litigants merely because they are dissatisfied, as representatives of the judiciary, with the level of service they provided to a litigant, even if they believe the system failed them."

The appeal also argued that the administration is not responsible for a mistake made by the court secretariat.

"If the court is authorized to issue compensation payments because it is dissatisfied with the service that it itself renders, then litigants can also sue the court for compensation," the appeal stated. (Tomer Zarchin )