Local and regional courts have been called on to use the available limited resources to achieve best possible results in receiving, processing and disposing of court cases.
Chief Justice Sam Rugege made the remarks yesterday at the 14th East African Magistrates and Judges Association Conference and Annual General Meeting.
Prof. Rugege said that, in an era of accelerated development, judicial systems across the region should endeavour to use the limited resources at their disposal to ensure effective and efficient dispensation of justice.
This can be achieved among other ways through learning from each other to identify best practices and efficient ways of handling cases.
“In this age of accelerated development, coupled with austerity, we need to ensure optimisation of use of limited resources in order to achieve the best possible results and delivery of best services to our people,” the CJ said.
“We need to compare notes in what works well and what does not and identify best practices to adopt, including efficiency in receiving and processing cases, disposing of cases in the shortest time, quality control and managing court staff.”
Among the ways to improve the efficiency and administration of court procedures is further adoption of ICT to improve case handling.
“Our country has made the integration of the use of ICT in all our activities, both private and public, a priority. I believe today we should all agree that technology makes life easier in terms of communication and modern living. As I understand, ICT has become crucial in delivery of court services, whether in case filing, communication among court staff and between registries and litigants, payment of court fees, producing statistical reports and other services,” Rugege said.
Among the benefits of adopting ICT in judicial service is the efficiency it presents as well as convenience in case management.
For instance, it plugs the gaps that allow corruption as there is reduced physical contact between litigants and court officials which was previously a channel of corruption.
“It is thus convenient and cost saving. More importantly, it promotes transparency and thus reduces chances of corruption,” Prof. Rugege explained.
He also called for more updated strategies and systems within courts to improve efficiency.
For instance, new improved mechanisms and procedures saw Rwanda reduce backlog cases from 42, 067 in 2011 to 17, 241 in 2016.
Justice Nzioka Wa Makau, from the Kenyan High Court, said court administration procedures and processes should always be with an aim of improving dispensation of justice.
Referring to the age-old adage, justice delayed is justice denied, Makau said judicial systems have to continuously mull new ways of speeding up processes at the same time improving quality of judgments.