Starting Litigation in Civil Proceedings
The civil courts in Bahrain have jurisdiction on all civil and commercial disputes as well as the personal status of non-Muslims. Civil and commercial procedures are outlined in Bahrain Decree-Law No. 12/1971 On the Issuance of the Civil and Commercial Procedures Law (as amended).
The Civil Court Structure (Article 7 of Bahrain Decree-Law No. 12/1971)
The civil courts are comprised of:
- the Court of Cassation;
- the Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution Court;
- the High Court of Appeal;
- the High Court;
- the Lower Court;
- the Court of Urgent Matters; and
- the Court of Execution.
This Practice Note will provide a guide on how to commence proceedings at first instance in the civil courts of Bahrain, from drafting to submission of the Statement of Claim.
Where to bring the claim
Civil and commercial claims with the value of BHD 5,000 or less must be filed with the Lower Court. Other types of claims such as claims concerning repossession of property and division of property are also heard in the Lower Court (article 8 of Bahrain Decree-Law No. 12/1971).
Civil and commercial claims with the value of over BHD 5,000 must be filed with the High Court. The High Court also has jurisdiction over other claims such as the personal status of non-Muslims, and commercial and civil matters that are not dealt with by the Lower Court (article 10 of Bahrain Decree-Law No. 12/1971).
Claims with a value exceeding BHD 500,000 and that are of an international commercial nature, and between financial institutions licensed by the Central Bank of Bahrain or between commercial companies licensed in Bahrain and relating to obligations from the commercial relationship between them, must be filed with the Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution ("BCDR") Court.
The BCDR Court also has jurisdiction over real estate claims with a value exceeding BHD 500,000 relating to specific real estate claims such as off-plan sale, Owners Union, and real estate projects relating to the Real Estate Regulatory Authority.
Drafting the Statement of Claim
The claimant or the claimant’s representative should file a Statement of Claim with the competent court by way of electronic submission. The Statement of Claim must include the following:
- The claimant's name, surname, occupation or profession and place of residence or contact address.
- The defendant's name, surname, occupation or profession and place of residence or elected domicile.
- The date of submitting the Statement of Claim to the court.
- The court before which the case is being brought.
- The subject matter and facts of the case and the claimant's claim and supporting evidence.
Structure of the Statement of Claim
The Statement of Claim should be structured to include:
- the facts of the case;
- the reasons for bringing the claim; and
- the relief sought.
The Statement of Claim must include evidence, be it written or in the form of witnesses or expert evidence.
The case must incorporate all that the claimant is entitled to claim. The claimant may have several claims in one case based on one or several legal grounds or facts (article 64 of Bahrain Decree-Law No. 12/1971).
General Rules in relation to Pleadings (Article 69 of Bahrain Decree-Law No. 12/1971)
Also note the following general rules in relation to pleadings submitted to the court:
- All pleadings must be written in ink or typed on a clean one-sided paper with margins.
- All pleadings must include references to the following:
a) case number, if any;
b) type and issue of the case; and
c) date of submission.
- All pleadings must be signed by the claimant or defendant submitting the pleading or their legal representative or any other representative.
The requirements for submissions of pleadings including the Statement of Claim in the BCDR Court mirror the
abovementioned court requirements.
Third Party Representatives
If either claimant or defendant is acting as the representative of a third party this must be stated in the Statement of Claim.
If the claim is for a sum of money, the claimant must state the precise amount claimed.
If the claim is for income of immovable property or for a sum of money which can only be determined by settling the accounts between the claimant and the defendant, the claimant must state an approximate amount of the sum claimed in the statement of claim.
For claims involving real property, the statement of claim must include a description of the property claimed in a way which is distinguishable from other properties, such as identifying its boundaries or stating its Land Registration title number. The rights claimed should be explained clearly and plainly.
Language (Bahrain Resolution No. 134/2021 and Bahrain Decision No. 28/2023)
All submissions must be in Arabic except in the following circumstances where submissions may be made in English:
- The parties agree in writing to conduct the proceedings in English where:
- the contract is in a language other than Arabic;
- the contract or correspondence between the parties states that any claim will be conducted in English;
- the value of the claim is over BHD 500,000; and
- the jurisdiction is the courts of Bahrain.
- BCDR Court claims where the disputed contract is in English and the parties are financial institutions licensed gby the Central Bank of Bahrain, commercial companies licensed in Bahrain, or the dispute relates to international trade involving financial institutions and/or companies.
- Court claims where the contract is drafted in more than one language including English and the contract explicitly refers to English as the prevailing language.
- Court claims relating to arbitration, where the language of arbitration is English.
Submitting the Statement of Claim (Bahrain Resolution No. 39/2021 and Bahrain Decision No. 44/2021)
Submission of all pleadings and supporting documents, as well as payment of the relevant court fees, must be done electronically in the courts and the BCDR Court.
For the courts, this is done through the Information and eGovernment Authority website (www.iga.gov.bh).
For the BCDR Court, this is done though the BCDR’s website (www.bcdr.org).
Fees (Bahrain Legislative Decree No. 3/1972 regarding Judicial Fees)
Court fees must be paid in full when submitting the claim.
The fees applicable will be in accordance with Bahrain Legislative Decree No. 3/1972 regarding Judicial Fees. The fees are proportional to the specific value of monetary claims, and are fixed for cases of an unknown value and personal status cases.
After Submitting the Statement of Claim (Articles 25-26 of Bahrain Decree-Law No. 12/1971)
The court will deliver a copy of the Statement of Claim to the defendant a day after its submission.
The defendant will have ten days from the delivery of the Statement of Claim to submit a defence with supporting documents.
The claimant will have ten days from the day the defence is submitted to submit a reply and supporting documents.
The Court will then list the claim for a hearing. Court summons will be given to the claimant and defendant to attend the hearing.
- Bahrain Decree-Law No. 12/1971 On the Issuance of the Civil and Commercial Procedures Law
- Bahrain Legislative Decree No. 3/1972 regarding Judicial Fees.
- Bahrain Resolution No. 39/2021 in relation to Permitting and determining the scope of the use of electronic means at the Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution.
- Bahrain Decision No. 44/2021 On Approving the Electronic Services for Offering Statements, Documents, Memos, and Judicial Requests
- Bahrain Resolution No. 134/2021 Promulgating the procedural rules governing the resolution of disputes falling under the jurisdiction of the Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution in accordance with Section 1 of Chapter 2 of Legislative Decree No. 30 of 2009 with respect to the Bahrain Chamber for Economic, Financial and Investment Dispute Resolution.
- Bahrain Decision No. 28/2023 On Determining the Language that Can be Used Before the Courts and the Bahrain Chamber for Settling in Non-Arabic Disputes, and the Mechanism and Scope of Application.
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