In just one and a half years since their establishment , the commercial courts have completed 81.5 percent of the cases received.
Of the 6,806 total cases received 3, 333 cases were backlog cases while 3,473 were new cases handled by the commercial courts from May to November 30th 2009.
“Cases are now handled very quickly! Some of these backlog cases were pending in other courts for more than 8-10 years, the Vice President of the Commercial High Court , Benoit Gatete told Business Times in an interview.
“With one judge in appeal - many cases are handled quickly,”
Gatete mentioned that “simple” cases are handled within 3 months while complex cases take up to 8 months.
“Our plan for this year is to reduce backlog cases because we have judges who had gone for training in South Africa and are now they are back,”
The Vice President also said the High Court intends to reduce these cases by 30 percent .
Apart from the Kisementi based Commercial High Court, there are three other commercial courts countrywide. Namely : Huye in Southern Province, Musanze in Northern Province and Nyarugenge in Central province respectively.
Nyarugenge Commercial Court which pioneered the hearing of commercial disputes comes top with a total of 3,578 cases handled, followed by the Commercial High Court with 1394 cases; Huye 1,036 cases and Musanze with 798 in the period under review.
Each of the three courts; Nyarugenge, Musanze and Huye, has a territorial jurisdiction that covers about 10 districts.
Gatete also revealed that 80 percent of the cases handled come from banks related to Over drafts, letter of credit and loans for construction purposes.
“If people fail to pay, banks sue them,” he said, pointing out that most commercial disputes from banks are also related to interest rates.
However the Vice president also observed that existing gaps within the operations of some banks pose a big challenge for the high court.
Most banks he explained wait for interest rates to pile before they seek legal intervention.
“Sometimes banks are not direct with their clients – interests rates continue to accumulate rising to even 20million,” he said.
Gatete also revealed that a common decision is yet to be made by judges as to when and whether interest rates should continue to run or be stopped if the case is before court.
Other cases handled by the court are from the tax body - Rwanda Revenue Authority, insurance cases, transport and few merchant cases.
The Commercial High Court is the highest jurisdiction of the Commercial Courts and has a mandate equivalent to that of the High Court.