Saturday, 5 December 2009

Experiments at the Duta Court

Whilst most lawyers are trying to complete their work with the impending year-end holidays in the horizon, a small but significant group of lawyers have been battling their way in the Lower Courts for the last 1 month.

Since the introduction of the Tracking system at the Lower Courts (Session & Magistrates Courts), scenes at the newly created Managing Judge zones in the Court complex resembles a refugee camp, of people lining up trying to get out of the country.

For those who dont understand what this tracking system is, please allow me to explain.

There are about 10 Civil Magistrate Courts and Session Courts. The Lower Courts also have specialised Courts to hear Criminal matters, but that division is not affected by the Tracking system (yet?).

Every single Civil Lower Court would have it's own Session Court President (the Judge) or a Magistrate. Each President/Magistrate would have about 10,000 to 50,000 files to go through every year. Mostly small claims and mostly cases which can be disposed off fairly quickly. The President/Magistrate would manage the Court and fix cases for Hearings/Trials. Admittedly, some Courts are slower than the other; but eventually, matters move.

It would be ideal to tweak that system, instead of just replacing the entire system to the current Tracking system.

So, what is this Tracking system?

In this system, ALL files from ALL Courts are managed by a central unit, referred to the 'Managing Judge Unit' (MJU). The Magistrate and Session Courts have their respective MJU. Every day now at the Duta Court complex a group of about 200 to 500 lawyers, mostly younger lawyers, trying to find their way in the MJU areas. Recently, the Session Court's MJU moved from the Basement to Level 3, whilst the Magistrate MJU remains in the Basement floor.

What happens there; is unfortunate and depressing. Lawyers are made to queue for hours to find out about their files. What use to take about 20-30 minutes in the old system, now take an average of an hour to 2 to sort out. Some lawyers will be at Court for about 2 hours to sort out just 1 file.

Instead of quickening the system, it has costs massive waste of legal time for the lawyers. Every minute away from the office for these lawyers would mean the lost of opportunity to serve other clients. Of course, this would adversely affect the incomes of the Legal Firms too.

This is not a conducive method to dispense Justice and the experiment at the Lower Courts must be either stopped or held back (and re-done) before re-implementing the system. Ideally the Courts Administrators ought to think things through first, before implementing any system.

1 comment:

H.W. Yip said...

So let's raise this issue at the upcoming EGM when debating KPI's as well...