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The Israeli judicial system is an independent branch of the government of the State of Israel which includes both secular and religious courts.


Secular courts


Supreme Court

Located in Jerusalem acts as a further appellate court, and as the High Court of Justice as a court of first instance, often in matters concerning the legality of decisions of state authorities.

District courts in Israel

The District Courts in Israel serve both as the appellate courts and also as the court of first instance for some cases (e.g. real estate or IP). As of 2007, there are six district courts[1]:

District court for administrative matters

Adjacent to every District Court is the Court for Administrative Matters, where petitions against Arms of the Government can be launched.

Magistrate courts

Also called "Peace Courts", the Magistrate Courts in Israel serve as the courts of first instance up to a certain ceiling of two million shekels. There are 30 magistrate courts[2].

Small claims courts

Adjacent to any Magistrate Court, is a Court of Small Claims, for claims up to 30,000 Shekels. These Courts do not follow standard evidentiary rules, however they require extensive pleadings and documentation upon filing of a formally written complaint. Verdicts are expected seven days from trial.

Traffic courts

Labor courts

There are five Regional Labor Courts in Israel as a tribunal of first instance, and one National labor court in Jerusalem hearing appeals and few cases of national importance, as first tier. They are vested with exclusive jurisdiction over cases involving employer-employee relationship, pre-employment, post-employment strikes and labor union disputes, as well as labor related complaints against the National Insurance Institute, and claims under the National Health Insurance Law.

The Labor Courts Law sets forth those matters within the jurisdiction of the Labor Court. Substantially all causes of action arising from the employer-employee relationship are within the court's jurisdiction.

In civil matters, the Labor Courts are not bound by the rules of evidence. Most cases are heard by a panel of three, including a Judge, a representative on behalf of employees and a representative on behalf of employers.

Court of admiralty

All matters have to do with admiralty, shipping commerce, accidents on sea and the like are brought to the Court of Admiralty in Haifa, which has exclusive Statewide jurisdiction.

Jewish religious courts

As of 2005, the Jewish religious authorities are under control of the Prime Minister's Office and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. The Chief Rabbinate deals with matters of kashrut (Jewish dietary laws), marriage, ascertaining the qualifications of local rabbis, and other matters relating to Jewish religious law and custom. The religious Services Authority in the Prime Minister's Office is in charge of the funding of Jewish religious services, including local religious councils. In addition, the Prime Minister's Office provides the framework for special Batei Din which deal with conversion to Judaism ("giyur")

The Rabbinic Courts courts, whose dayanim ("judges") are selected by a committee headed by the Minister of Justice, have jurisdiction regarding marital issues of Jews (especially divorce). Divorce of a Jewish couple can only be obtained at the Rabbinical Batei Din. However, if a petition for ancillary matrimonial reliefs, such as custody, support or equitable distribution of property is filed with the Civil Courts before a case for divorce is opened at the Batei Din, then all other marital issues may also be taken by the secular Family Courts. Otherwise, if one spouse opens some sort of an action with the Batei Din, (including asking the couple for reconciliation), the Batei Din assume that all ancillary relief is aggregated into the main complaint, and the spouses may find themselves facing judicial deermination pursuant to Halakha (Jewish religious law), and not pursuant to the secular law. Thus, spouses may lose the equal protection and anti gender discrimination protections of the secular civil law.

Non-Jewish religious courts

The other major religions in Israel such as Islam and Christianity are supervised by their own official religious establishments (although the Muslim and Druze kaddis judges are also elected by the Knesset), which have similar jurisdiction over their followers, although Muslim religious courts have more control over family affairs. This is the maintenance of an agreement reached with the British Mandatory Authorities before the State of Israel's establishment in 1948.

Military courts

The Military Court of Appeals is the highest judicial body in the Israeli military, which also includes the District and Special military tribunals.

Legal practice

There are approximately 35,000 attorneys licensed in Israel, with law schools producing new graduates at the rate of 2,000 new lawyers a year. This creates a tight and highly competitive market. Market surveys find that the percentage of attorneys per one thousand inhabitants in Israel is one of the highest in the world.



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