Judges vow to fix malfunctioning courts
THE judiciary has adopted a programme of action to increase the efficiency of the courts and asserted its institutional independence after an "honest and brutal" self-examination of the bench by senior judges at a recent retreat.
Increasing access to the courts through more efficient court administration is Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s particular passion and it is widely hoped this will be the signature of his incumbency as chief justice.
"The leadership of the judiciary emerged out of its retreat last weekend determined to make a decisive break with the underperformance of the courts over the years," Justice Mogoeng’s office said in a statement yesterday.
The programme of action had been adopted "for immediate, medium and long-term implementation".
Justice Mogoeng’s spokeswoman, Lulama Luti, said that the weekend’s strategic planning session was a "build-on" to the access to justice conference organised by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo in July last year. It was the first time Justice Mogoeng was able to meet the heads of courts to thrash out the practical implementation of the resolutions taken at that conference.
At the retreat, attended by "all senior levels of the judiciary in the country", judicial leaders underwent "honest and brutal self-introspection and examined the challenges it (judiciary) is facing", Justice Mogoeng’s office said.
Among the key decisions taken was the adoption, "and immediate implementation", of a judicial case management system involving early intervention by a judge or magistrate to dictate the pace of litigation in order to prevent postponements and case backlogs.
The judges made a "renewed commitment" to the overall pursuit of excellence in administering and dispensing "quality justice to all" and ensuring the institutional independence of the judiciary, through a judiciary-led court administration, and the enhancement of stakeholder relations and more community outreach, said the statement.
Justice Mogoeng said the judiciary would "work tirelessly to ensure that the situation in our courts is turned around and we have set ourselves to achieve a great deal by this time next year". A report setting out all the resolutions would be released soon, Ms Luti said.
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