Tuesday, February 16, 2016

First Round in Tenancy/Rental Court

Two words:  It Sucked.  I didn't expect anything different....

Here's my advice for those having the same misfortune of being illegally kicked out of your home by your landlord and going to the rental court:    Bring someone fluently Arabic-speaking.  Plan to be there at around 8 am on the day of your hearing.

Hawalli Rental Court is no picnic.  Nothing is apparent.  2/3 of the inhabitants of Kuwait are not Kuwaiti.  Many of the population do not read or speak Arabic.  A large number of people filing cases in rental court these days are expats.  Why?  Because Kuwaitis are harder to kick out and the norm these days is kicking out  your tenants so you can make more money off the next expat.  Anyhoo, we are in an Arabic speaking-country.  The court system is all in Arabic.  Unfortunate, but true.

I have a "lawyer".  Ha ha.  I say that with a bit of irony because here is the latest scam:  law STUDENTS posing as lawyers.  They look around for a friend or a relative who has been practicing law for 2 years.  This will allow them to open an office and get a license to practice law under the 2-year-experienced-lawyer's name.  2 year guy rarely works there - if ever.  So, you get a law student and, in my case, a bunch of Egyptian lawyers who technically aren't supposed to be able to stand up and represent your case in court.  But guess what?  My law STUDENT sent one.

So many many many layers of BS....

Even finding your way into the parking lot at the court is a mystery.  I spoke Arabic to the Arabic speaking Arab parking lot attendant, asking him (in Arabic) if I was in the right place for the rental court. He asked me to speak Arabic.  Sigh.  He did not direct me to the barking lot.  In fact, he didn't even want to allow me to make a U turn out of the lot I had turned into. It was obvious from the 1/2 mile long line of honking cars behind me that I couldn't back out.  He was phoning for a supervisor when I frantically made hand signals to show him where I was going.

When you finally make it to the multi-story barking garage (drive past the court on the main road and the entrance is on the right), you make your way to the first building with a blue sign that says (in English and Arabic), "Legal Services Department". You must ask at the reception desk where to go to be told what floor and court number your case will appear for the day.  When you enter the room, there is a number machine with 2 choices (in Arabic).  I hit one; no clue what they said.  I explained in Arabic to the clerk what I wanted, handed him my civil ID card and he wrote down the information (in Arabic) and handed it to me.  It included my case number, the floor number and the hearing room number.

I went to the floor.  I found the hearing room (all signage is in Arabic) after asking around.  I then asked how I could find out what order my case would be heard (you are given numbers, not timings).  There is a big digital screen (in Arabic).  Any of the guys wearing badges with the scales of justice on them are lawyers.  You can usually pick out the sharper ones; ask one of them to help you find your number on the screen (using your civil ID as a guide).  I was lucky 14.

Some of the hearing room attendants bark out the numbers (in Arabic).  Sometimes you have to go and sit in the hearing room (which is difficult because they are packed with people waiting their turns).

I don't think this system is fair to people participating in hearings - OR to the judges and court case workers.  It puts too much pressure on the system.  When my number was called, I had a friend translating (a lovely lawyer who just happened to be in the building that day).    Neither of us got a chance to speak.  I made one statement, pointing at my "representative" who I had never seen before, "THAT is not my lawyer.  I don't know who that guy is.  Where is the Kuwaiti lawyer?"  The judge said, in English, "It's ok."  Uh noooo, it was NOT ok.  I never discussed my case with that person.  How could they "represent" me if they knew nothing about my case.  (They don't care - they're getting paid a a fee to complete the case.  This makes me ponder if it is better to pay an hourly rate or one lump fee.  I still think one fee is better.)   It was over in less than 5 minutes.  She didn't have time to translate until it was over - and then I was shocked at what my "representative" asked (he asked that the apartment be site inspected.  I moved out in May of 2015.  God knows how many people have walked through there since!)  They kicked us out of the hearing room because I was arguing with my "representative".

Today I fired my STUDENT lawyer after she yelled at me paying customer) for half an hour on the phone yesterday - demanding to know who my translator was; stating that the basically-mandoob-rep she sent hadn't done anything incorrectly, yada.    She has never given me a complete copy of my case file.  I sent her a letter asking for all of my documents - in detail.  This is lawyer #2.  The first guy took 100 KD and never returned my phone calls!

Why am I pursuing this case?    Because what they did to me was WRONG.  It literally forever changed my belief in Kuwait and Kuwaiti people.  I have loved this country for many years and they jaded that.    I had no idea that such awful people existed here.  What happened to me last year was heinous. It was intentionally.  It was a violation in a series of terrible violations.  And I did nothing wrong.  My parents always told me to stand up for what I believe in.  I NEED to fight this.  Yes it is costing me a lot of money.  When I finally do leave Kuwait, I don't want to believe that everyone is bad because of circumstances at the end.  I really want someone to prove that there are good people and it can have some kind of a good outcome.  And I don't want those horrible people to be able to do it to anyone else less fortunate than I am.  I want them to feel it and remember it.


Mr M. said...

Get a better lawyer someone you can trust. I also believe you should fight for what you feel iss right. A recent case being when I went to the director in a government hospital to complain about negligence and even tho I didn't think anything would happen action was taken.

Ps. I know a few lawyers both western and kuwaiti , I think they can help you .

Any way all the best with your case hope justice is served .

Aziz Ghani said...

I was born in Kuwait, left the country more than a decade ago. I can't believe it's gotten worse. I couldn't fall asleep so I randomly googled kuwait rentals and came across Ur blog. LoL it's almost 3am here and thought of commenting. karma is a B, don't stress yourself too much. My family lost their 25 years old business in kuwait due to the bias rental law in q8. I will always have a hate/love relationship with kuwait. It was a place I wanted to call home, but the govt and people would neglect you, no matter what you do, a foreigner is always a second class human being. Hope I'm alive to see the change in q8 and it's people

Anonymous said...

What happened to you is heinous, and it is also normal. Meaning, it happens all the time. You can fight all you want and it won't change the way things are. There is some cynical pointing to the laws in place - human trafficking, employment, sponsorship, rental laws, etc and etc and then there is the way it really works. Pardon my cynicism, but only laws which are truly enforced are real laws of the country. So are you seeing a lot of laws enforced in traffic situations? When a careless Kuwaiti driver hits an Indian driver and his Kuwaiti baby, held by his wife in the front seat, is injured, does the Kuwaiti driver pay? Who has ever heard of such a thing? When a Kuwaiti student in one of the English or American schools misbehaves and is disciplined, can an irate Kuwaiti parent hold up a teacher's departure at the end of term by "filing a case" that the teacher knows nothing about until it is time to depart? These systemic occurrences are indicative of a legal system that is vulnerable to corruption. It is not a level playing field. The law does not apply equally to every person in Kuwait.

Anonymous said...

Hey there �� I haven't seen you on Facebook. I hope everythings ok. Its Melanie ☺