The Sceptic Blog

Random thoughts of a random chappy

Small Claims Beis Din

with one comment

  1. A UK Beis Din (rabbinic court) has just announced a new small claims service for claims between £500 and £5000 where both parties choose to use it; the guarantee is that they will “receive a brief, written, binding psak within 72 hours”.
  2. I must be missing something.
  3. It’s great that a Beis Din is promising a swift decision: one of the embarrassing features of the Beis Din system in this country is how long cases are sometimes allowed to drag on.
  4. But what’s that got to do with the value of the claim?
  5. Everybody knows that the complexity of a claim and its value do not necessarily correlate.
  6. In secular courts, there are a number of practical reasons why small claims are provided with a range of faster tracks.
  7. A Beis Din is meant to do one of two things: (a) determine a compromise; or (b) decide the truth of liability.
  8. There is no reason why either of those should be quicker with a “small” claim (and which part of the community is the Beis Din prioritising if it considers £5,000 a “small” claim?).
  9. The speed of the resolution should be determined by the complexity of the case, not its value.
  10. Instead of offering a service that equates complexity with value and thereby inevitably risks giving decisions that are poorly thought out in order to meet an artificial 72-hour deadline, all Botei Din should concentrate on treating all cases as urgent, and providing answers as quickly as is consistent with the search for Torah justice.
  11. If the parties don’t care whether a decision is right or wrong but just want it quickly because the claim isn’t big enough to matter much to either of them, they’d do better tossing a coin.
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Written by Daniel Greenberg

January 7, 2017 at 10:04 pm

One Response

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  1. There’s a pertinent message from Yisro and Moshe. When Yisro advised Moshe to set up a hierarchy of courts, with Moshe himself at the top, he instructed that any big cases should be brought straight to Moshe (כל הדבר הגדול). Moshe followed Yisro’s advice, but made one subtle change – Moshe instructed that the difficult cases should be brought to him (כל הדבר הקשה), not the big ones.

    Daniel Ehreich

    January 22, 2017 at 6:50 pm


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