The Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs has recently taken far reaching decisions. It has decided that only Omani advocates lawyers will appear and plead in the courts of the Sultanate of Oman. This highly commendable decision will practically empower Omanis in many areas of work in the country. This decision puts major responsibilities on the shoulders of other government organisations to support the efforts for Omanisation. It is the responsibility of the ministry to deal with the shortage of Omani lawyers who can appear and plead in the Supreme Court. As one of the solutions, the ministry can shorten or completely waive the required years of experience for appearing in courts to qualify to plead in the Supreme Court.
The step to give the opportunity to the national cadre is an example worth to be followed by other organisations as well. They can actively play their role in the achievement of our aspirations. This should be done without any delay. There lies a major responsibility to help in this effort as it is vital for the country at this moment. National cadre should be given opportunity in the areas of their specialisation both in the public and private sectors. Perhaps, this was the idea behind the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs in allowing only Omani lawyers to plead in the courts of the country.
Everyone knows that the legal profession is important for fulfilling all requirements of justice everywhere. The decision taken by the ministry is a bold one. It took several years to reach to this level, and it would also take some more time when enough national cadre will be available for this. But where there is a will there is a way. The decision itself will open more horizons in the legal system, and lead to more effective solutions in getting rid of the shortage of Omani laywers.
There is no doubt that the decision has pleased all Omani lawyers because now they will be seen appearing in large numbers and pleading cases to ensure justice. These are the basic principles of state institutions which the citizens get their due share in the work. To fill any vacuum, we hope that ministry will come out with solutions such as reducing the years of experience required for appearing in Supreme Court as lawyers. It takes more than 14 years of experience, hard work and getting sufficient knowledge and expertise to be able to plead in the Supreme Court.
According to 2019 statistics, there are just 1,935 Omani lawyers registered in various courts in the country. The number of Omani lawyers registered to practice in the Supreme Court stands at 172. There are only 313 registered lawyers in the appeal courts. This data reveals that the number of advocates registered for pleading in the Supreme Court is much less than the number required. To fill this vacuum, immediate solutions should be found. One of them can be reducing or waiving the years of experience required for appearing in the Supreme Court.
There is another side of the picture. After this decision, clients will start refraining from contacting legal services offices for cases in the courts of first instance. This may lead to closure of some of such offices. This issue can also be looked into as we have to deal with the shortage of Omani lawyers in courts by the end of this year.
The decision which was taken by the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs has generated confidence and hope. It has set an example for many other authorities also. However, it should look into these important issues to find real solutions so that the Omani lawyers climb the steps to reach to the Supreme Court gradually, effectively, faster and also in large numbers before they reach their age of retirement. These are the ambitions and aspirations of many Omani lawyers. They want to achieve their dreams.
Ali Al Matani