The Ministerial Committee on Legislation is set to debate on Sunday a new bill that allows volunteers to help new immigrants and poorer citizens with suing private companies in small claims courts.

Small claims courts are located in each magistrate’s court and allow citizens to sue anyone for amounts up to NIS 32,700, or according to the cost-of-living index.

While some plaintiffs can afford to hire a lawyer to write up a claim to present to the court, the court does not allow complainants for a lawyer to act in their stead.

While claimants represent themselves in court, the respondent – usually a private company – often retains in-house counsel, and that employee represents their company in court.

Consumers may find themselves facing a qualified and experienced attorney when arguing their case in small claims court.

New immigrants face particular difficulties, because the small claims court only permits claimants to present cases in one of Israel’s two official languages, Hebrew and Arabic. As a result, many consumers refrain from filing a suit in the small claims court, according to the Israel Consumer Council.

While Courts Administration data shows that Israelis file 44,000 small claims court cases annually, the potential number of claims is far greater.

The proposed bill aims to level the playing field for immigrants and other weaker social sectors by providing them with free legal help from trained volunteers, who could assist in presenting their cases to court.

MK Ze’ev Bielski (Kadima), who sponsored the bill, dubbed the proposed legislation as “fair and of unparalleled importance.”

“This is a way to provide assistance to new immigrants, people with various types of disabilities and those who cannot afford legal assistance,” Bielski said.

“In addition, I believe that by empowering volunteers, we will help the court to be more efficient and expedite the legal process that are often drawn out because of the courts’ tremendous workload.”

The bill would empower new immigrants who have fallen for real estate, marketing and apartment rental scams to take legal action, Bielski says.

To assist the immigrants, the National Council for Voluntarism in Israel (NCVI) has partnered with the consumer

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