Busingye moves to curtail losses in public litigations

State Attorneys have been urged to put more effort in their work, in order to reduce the number of cases the government loses in courts.
Justice Minister Johnston Busingye addresses lawyers on Monday.   The New Times/ John Mbanda.
Justice Minister Johnston Busingye addresses lawyers on Monday. The New Times/ John Mbanda.

State Attorneys have been urged to put more effort in their work, in order to reduce the number of cases the government loses in courts.

Government has paid at least Rwf3 billion in damages to plaintiffs before different courts in the country in the last two years, and according to the Minister for Justice, Johnston Busingye, this money can significantly reduce if the state attorneys put in more efforts and win cases.

He made the remarks during a meeting with the state attorneys and legal advisors from different government institutions on Monday.

Busingye particularly cited poor coordination or communication between the legal officers of different institutions as the major reason government loses cases in courts.

“Teamwork should be key in everything we do in order to achieve what we want. The money government loses has to reduce,” Busingye, also the Attorney General, said. “We lose most cases not because the other parties are better, but because they take advantage of our poor coordination. The amount lost should come down.”

According to the minister, the government also loses cases because of little or no information is obtained from several government institutions that attorneys represent in court.

“We represent institutions in court based on information they give us. If they do not give us enough, we do not have enough to take to court. We want to increase our chances of success in the court, and that starts here,” he said.

Bosses blamed

This is the first meeting between state attorneys since 2009, but according to Busingye, plans are underway to make them more regular.

“Without meeting regularly, you can never make any progress because everyone operates in isolation,” he said.

The participants, however said that in some instances, the heads of the parastatals are to blame since they make decisions without seeking legal opinion.

Geoffrey Zawadi, a state attorney at Rwanda Development Board said there are many cases the institution has lost which may not have been the case if top managers had sought legal opinion before making particular decisions.

“We, have several times found ourselves before court pleading a case that cannot be won, because our bosses made certain decisions without consulting us,” he said.

Zawadi called for more coordination between institutional management and the legal offices, to ensure that the latter are let in on all the decisions made to avoid unnecessary litigations.

“We cannot give advice that we are not asked for, our bosses should know that advisory is core in our duties,” he added.

Busingye noted that bosses who will cause such losses to government will be held accountable.

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