CHIEF Justice Irene Mambilima has called on High Court Judges to ensure that the law is interpreted in a manner that reflects the needs of society.
Speaking during a webinar launch of the High Court Amendment rules Statutory Instrument (SI) No. 58 which stipulates the management of cases, Justice Mambilima indicated that High Court Judges should not be passive and wait for other parties to direct their courts.
The Chief Justice explained that the power and discretion of case management resides in the High Court Judges hence are expected to manage cases at every step of the proceedings.
“Case management has been the preserve of a judge because the old rules of court did not define the role to be played by counsel and litigants in case management. The new rules, as enshrined in Statutory Instrument No. 58 of 2020, enjoin a judge to be a manager and to manage his/her cases at every stage of the proceedings, in conjunction with counsel and the litigants.
“Gone are the days when a judge was passive and waited for the parties to steer his or her court, or when the judge issued directions without the participation of the litigants,” Justice Mambilima reminded the judges.
She however emphasised on the need for High Court Judges to be conversant with cases before them so that they can interpret the rules accordingly and guide counsel as well as litigants.
The Chief Justice pointed out that society has for a long time demanded for speedy and effective justice challenged judges to vigorously apply the rules of statutory instrument in order to deliver as expected of them.
She added that the High Court should provide efficient services by delivering judgement and rulings within a specific period of time.
“I must state, however, that the delivery of decisions within the specified times should not be used as an excuse for causing injustice through scanty or not properly reasoned decisions leading to unnecessary appeals or orders for re-trial. Hence, your decisions should meet the quality standards that are well articulated in this jurisdiction. The very fact that you are required by the rules to identify the issues at the early stage of the process should narrow down and focus the scope of what is required for your determination,” Justice Mambilima stated.
The Chief Justice urged High Court Judges to utilize the new rules appropriately in order to achieve their intended goals thereby reducing the backlog of individual courts.
Speaking earlier, High Court Advisory Committee on Training and Continuing Education Chairperson, Judge Mugeni Mulenga noted that the SI No. 58 of 2020 is a progressive amendment to the previous rules.
Judge Mulenga disclosed that after a long process of consultations with various entities, the amendment rules were passed by the Chief Justice and later came out in June this year.
She indicated the critical role played by the judicial system in the country and that the SI will enhance case management.
“As you know, court rules are the backbone of any judicial system, therefore they occupy that special place for you to adjudicate efficiently and for the judiciaries to meet the needs of the users and the public at large. And I think it was in that recognition that these amendment rules were passed by the Honourable Chief Justice,” Justice Mulenga explained.
She called for a change in the way things were previously done by ensuring that the amended rules were inculcated in the operations of the courts across the country.