Israel introduced alternative dispute resolution into its judicial system in 1992, following the amendment of the Courts Act of 1984. It was only in 1997, however, that the judicial system established a fluid process for referring cases to ADR processes, especially mediation. The Israeli court system has an enormous caseload every year. A comparative study of judicial cases in seventeen countries in 2007 determined that Israel ranked highest in the number of cases submitted per population (~600,000 cases per year for a population of 7,645,000), sixth place in the number of judges per population (660 residing judges), and first place in judicial caseload. The ratio of 1:136 lawyers per population was one of the highest.
In light of this data, the opportunity to establish advanced methods of conflict resolution outside of the over-burdened judiciary is significant. It appears that the Israeli legal culture will continue its movement toward early case handling in the sphere of the vanishing trial. ADR is well on its way to becoming rooted in the Israeli legal system via upcoming legislation.
The challenges for the future include: the implementation of additional methods of dispute resolution, early evaluation by neutral parties, and non-binding arbitration. Keeping a new generation of attorneys abreast of the innovative methods available for resolving conflicts is of paramount importance. In an age where information is easily accessible, attorneys will have to meet their clients’ needs and provide customized processes to help resolve conflicts in Israel and beyond.
Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, is considered one of the most advanced countries in economic and industrial development. The country is ranked 3rd in the region on the World Bank‘s Ease of Doing Business Index, as well as in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. Israel has the second-largest number of startup companies in the world (after the United States) and the largest number of NASDAQ-listed companies outside North America. The Israeli economy was ranked first as the world’s most durable economy in the face of crises and was also ranked first in the rate of research and development center investments.
By Hagit Shaked-Gvili, Senior Fellow-Israel, Weinstein International Foundation