Support to Legal Aid and Dispute Settlement in Family Courts

What is the project about?

In support of the Government of Egypt’s (GOE) efforts to develop the judicial system, the first phase of collaboration between the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and UNDP started in 2008 and was designed to introduce Legal Aid Offices (LAOs) in Family Courts as well as strengthen the mediation function of Dispute Settlement Offices (DSOs).

In 2013, the project was evaluated by an independent consultant and based upon the recommendations of the evaluation and the request of the Ministry of Justice, the second phase of collaboration, which started in 2014 with support from the Government of Sweden, was designed to:

1. Strengthen operational efficiency, transparency and integrity in family courts and family prosecution. Key activities include:

  • Conducting in-depth assessment of training needs, methodologies and programmes;
  • Improving court and case management, scheduling and streamlining of procedures;
  • Upgrading automation and networking within the family court system (family courts; legal aid offices; family prosecution; and Nasser Bank to facilitate/expedite access of women to alimony).

2. Increase access to legal information on personal status and family courts laws. Key activities include:

  • Up-scaling the establishment of legal aid offices in family courts
  • Designing and implementing outreach campaigns for literate and illiterate women.

What have we accomplished so far?

  • During the period from 2009 through 2013, 27 legal Aid Offices (LAOs) were established by the project in family courts in different governorates such as Suez, Cairo, Alexandria, Sharm El Sheikh, Fayoum and Mansoura. During this period, 31,068 cases were addressed through LAOs, out of which 22,469 were women (72%).
  • In 2014, and with the support of the Government of Sweden, the project established 5 new legal aid offices in 5 family courts, located in the governorates of Aswan, Fayoum, Luxor, Cairo (Nasr City) and Sohag. Each of these offices has been fully furnished and supplied with IT equipment. A total of 14,606 cases were supported in 2014, 11,483 cases have had female litigants (79%). Statistics from the five newly established offices are yet to be compiled.
  • Between 2008 and 2014, and in partnership with the National Center for Judicial Studies, 17 trainings and workshops were organized for 125 Judges in Family Courts, 305 employees from Legal Aid Offices and 95 employees from Dispute Settlement Offices. Legal experts were also invited to introduce best practices in terms of dealing with litigants.
  • In 2014 alone, three training workshops were conducted with 100 overall participants as follows: 2 capacity building workshops/trainings benefitting 70 legal aid and dispute settlement employees with the aim of improving the administrative structure and performance of these offices:
    • Workshop titled “Developing the administrative structure of legal aid offices and dispute settlement offices” hosted from 1-3 June 2014, saw attendance by 40 employees from Legal Aid Offices (LAOs) and Dispute Settlement Offices (DSOs) with a gender breakdown of 25 men and 15 women. Training topics included problem solving, dispute settlement methods, difficulties faced by LAOs and DSOs employees, inheritance law, implementing court decisions related to alimony through Nasser Bank.
    • Workshop titled “Requalification of Legal Aid and Dispute Settlement Offices Employees” attended by 30 employees from LAOs and DSOs. Training topics included practical examples of difficulties faced by LAOs and DSOs employees; ways of dealing with beneficiaries; lawsuits such as alimony, custody and visitation rights; inheritance issues; the automation of family courts.
    • Workshop titled “Impact of Judicial mediation on achieving justice in family Courts” was organized in partnership with the French Cultural Center for 30 LAOs and DSOs employees, inviting experts from France. Training topics included the legal framework for family mediation in France, practical case studies of mediation, and tools to advance mediation in family courts.
  • With the framework of the project, MOJ, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), and the Public Prosecution signed a protocol for the automation of family courts which is designed to improve networking between legal aid offices, family courts, family prosecution and Nasser Bank and which will help reduce the litigation period and therefore increase access to swift justice, facilitate/expedite access of women to alimony, and prevent underage marriage. The project will start with three family courts systems, namely Heliopolis, Luxor, Aswan.
  • In 2014, the project developed a Geographic Information System (GIS) which can be accessed through the project website.

Who finances this project?

UNDP and Swedish International  Development Agency (SIDA)

Delivery in previous fiscal year

$143,430.35 (2014)



  • In March 2015, the project organized a media visit to Fayoum on the occasion of the launch of the Legal Aid Office, in the Abshway Family Court, which also coincided with the celebrations of the International Women’s Day. This visit was organized as part of the project’s activities to enhance communication and outreach and was widely covered by the media
Project Overview
Project start date:
April 2008
Estimated end date:
December 2015
Geographical coverage:
20 governorates
Focus area:
Democratic Governance
Project officer:
Naglaa Arafa
Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT), the Public Prosecution, SIDA