KIGALI - The President of the High Court and Principal Judge at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ), Justice Johnston Busingye, has revealed that all the 22 courts countrywide will next year start online services.
He disclosed the initiative in a statement sent to The New Times yesterday.
“Next year we intend to start some online services between courts and litigants, but especially their advocates so that they can come to court on hearing days and whenever it is inevitable,” he said in a statement.
He added that they are planning to allow online filing of cases, pleadings, fix hearing dates, publish court calendars on their website and avail the judgments online.
“We intend to progress like that until we can do online services whatever can be done online. This will ease the advocates’ work. All we need from lawyers is to be ready so that they won’t be surprised when it comes,” he noted.
Busingye added that they need to constantly increase the stock of legal knowledge; they cannot achieve this without the research lawyers do in the process of defending clients. It’s not prohibited for lawyers to come to court and recite articles of the law but quality legal debate, defence and even law reform can only come from research.
“Our Supreme Court decisions too are now online. High Court decisions will be posted soon. We are deeply grateful to lawyers who already make this contribution,” Busingye explained.
He requested and insisted that the Council of the Bar Association demonstrates that integrity, professional ethics and discipline are observed by all and there is zero tolerance for those who flout them.
“There are litigants’ complaints that reach us and we send them to advocates. There are complaints which are lodged with them direct. We request that the advocates address them swiftly, publish their findings and assure the public that those who flout their integrity, ethics and discipline regulations pay a high price,” he said.
“We need the lawyer’s leadership in this. The profession stands on integrity and ethics. Once they are gone, public confidence will be eroded, and when it goes, it will be the whole country to pay the price, not the Bar Association alone”.
Justice Busingye called upon the Council to address the issue of professional fees. Questions like; is it the rich who are charged exorbitantly, is it the visitors and foreign investors still new in the country, is it those with complicated cases, is it those who are in or risk imprisonment and are in a crisis?, should be addressed.
“We do appreciate fees cannot be the same as work done in each case is not the same, but litigants, intending litigants and even courts would benefit greatly if the Council discusses the issue and come up with written guidelines on lawyers’ fees which would serve as a reference for all who need to know,” he said.