By Nat Molomo
MASERU –— The Case Management System project meant to enhance efficiency in the running of operations of the judiciary was launched at Lehakoe last Friday.
The Case Management System (CMS), which is a more user-friendly system, will initially be piloted at the High Court, the Commercial Division and the Maseru Magistrate’s Court.
It is the brainchild of the United States based consultancy group, Synergy International. The launch comes at a time when the judiciary has suffered a lot of criticism ranging from missing files, huge backlog and delays in delivering judgments, among others.
Synergy International has been working closely with the courts’ Information and Technology team while the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) in conjunction with the European Union and the government of Lesotho, have provided funding for the implementation of the new system.
The new system is expected to put up the gear of meaningful transformations in the judiciary system.
Speaking at the launch, the Acting Chief Justice Ts’eliso Monaphathi said following deliberations, consultations and trial-runs, the judiciary came up with the new user-friendly system.
He explained the new technology would among other functions, help reduce backlog of cases, improve management of files, tracking movements of files, ensure timeous and comprehensive reporting of cases and accelerate the case processing time.
“The judiciary has borne the brunt of criticism for having inadequate systems in place in the discharge of their constitutional mandate.
However, this new system will help improve reporting of court events, enable faster delivery of judgments and ensure data on all cases is readily available,” Justice Monaphathi said.
He said efficient systems that can help accelerate the dispensation of justice would go a long way to restore confidence in the country’s courts, bearing in mind that justice delayed is justice denied.
Also in attendance at the launch were senior government officials, judges and various stakeholders from the judiciary sector.
The Law Society president Advocate Monaheng Rasekoai also applauded the introduction of the sophisticated modes of automated case management and tracking system.
“It is true that we receive a litany of complaints over delay to conclude cases and lawyers are at times blamed for such. The new system features illustrate that we were in desperate need of mechanisms that would facilitate the expeditious handling of matters instituted in courts,” Rasekoai said.
He further explained the need to reduce the burden of work on High Court Judges saying for year they have been overstretched because of the old systems.
“We hope that this promising initiative does not become another white elephant as I recall early last year there was a “somewhat” similar initiative which was not implemented.”
He was speaking about the launch of the land court and district court rules to honour the establishment of land and district courts.
“I remember, this initiative on paper was plausible and many were excited but what defeats the objective of the establishment of the specialised courts is the fact that judicial officers who sit in the courts are respectively ordinary members of the bench and magistracy. This arrangement handicaps them from developing the jurisprudence that deals with land issues because they still have to carry out some other judicial functions.”
He emphasised the need to have personnel that deals with issues exclusively related to land.
However, he said he is optimistic that this time around, the new Case Management System would ensure a sustained and responsible control of cases by the judicial officers throughout the life of a case.
“The consistency of the approach is further going to be insulated by the introduction of new rules which are going to harmonise the system through legislative channels.”