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Israel's sixth district court, the Central District Court, is due to be inaugurated today in Petah Tikva in the presence of Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann.
The new court will take over responsibility for legal matters in parts of the country that until now have been under the jurisdiction of the Tel Aviv District Court.
Friedmann appointed the deputy president of Tel Aviv District Court, Hila Gerstl, as president of the new court which will include a total of 10 judges including Gerstl, Noga Ohad, Menahem Finkelstein, Ilan Shilo, Esther Dudkiewicz, Michal Nadav, Esther Stemmer, Akiham Stoler and Meir Yifrach.
In a series of administrative orders handed down by Friedmann beginning May 2, he established the court and also determined its responsibilities in the first phase of its operations.
According to the first of these orders, the new court was not to handle criminal matters. These affairs were to be left to the Tel Aviv District Court, except for appeals of rulings in criminal cases from lower courts in the central district.
According to a second administrative order, Friedmann also decided that matters belonging to the district courts in their capacity as administrative courts, including bankruptcies, petitions by prisoners and appeals regarding tax matters, would also remain in the hands of the Tel Aviv District Court.
Altogether, in the first stage, the Tel Aviv District Court was due to transfer 1,500 cases on its docket to the new district court. So far, it has transferred 688.
Last week, however, the High Court of Justice ruled that Friedmann did not have the authority to issue the administrative orders determining the prerogatives of the new court. These prerogatives had been determined in legislation and could only be changed through legislation. The court ruled that the constraints regarding what types of cases could not be heard by the Central District Court must be cancelled by March 1, 2008, and that no more cases will be transferred to the new court in the meantime.