End those inquiries!
Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson wants legislation passed “as soon as possible” to eliminate preliminary inquiries (PIs) in Magistrates’ Courts as a means to tackle the continuing heavy backlog of cases in the judicial system.
Speaking during a special sitting of the Supreme Court yesterday to mark the beginning of the 2014-2015 law term, and referring to the caseload of previous years, he revealed that in 2012, annual civil filings stood at 3 938 cases, comprising 2 273 civil suits, 472 divorce applications and 1 193 probate applications; while there were 20 656 cases in the Magistrates’ Courts that same year.
Sir Marston said he believed that the backlog in both the Supreme and Magistrates’ Courts could be tackled by dropping the PIs and also using mediators trained in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). He said mediators would remove certain cases which could be settled without judges “from the civil stream”.
He told fellow judges, lawyers and other judicial officials that, to date, there were eight qualified mediators “ready and willing to work in our court-annexed mediation programme”, but the post of ADR coordinator, which should have been created to run the programme, was put on hold due to the lack of funds.