Economy set to get direct court support


19-September-2011



CJ Egonda-Ntende (3rd from right, back row) addressing judges, lawyers and magistrates at the official re-opening of the Supreme Court on Thursday

Chief Justice Fredrick Egonda-Ntende said this in an interview on Thursday after the official reopening of the court.

“If a firm has a dispute it should be resolved as fast as possible so as not to harm the business. Not to lock up money,” he said.

“If banks lend out money and people default, the banks would obviously want to recover it as soon as possible because first of all they are only trustees for the money.
“The courts should be efficient to help the banks to get back the money as soon as possible for it to be available to someone else.

“Assume you have a firm employing 50 people which supplies an item to another company which fails to pay, the jobs of the 50 may be at stake if the firm is not helped to recover the money soon and bring it back to the business cycle,” said Mr Egonda-Ntende.

He said the courts play a key role in enabling a proper investment climate and in ensuring business growth and most countries in the region have commercial courts which are able to hear cases at very short notice, hear and finish them as soon as possible.

In his speech, the chief justice said it was because of the importance to the economy of resolving such disputes quickly that many countries in the region including Mauritius, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, and Uganda have created commercial courts.

“Given the size of our jurisdiction we need not follow necessarily the same path of creating a commercial court division as such with several judges. What we can do is create an exclusive commercial list to which the kind of disputes that we have in mind may be listed.

“We can assign a full-time judge to this list and ensure that cases on this list are tried no later than 3 - 6 months from close of pleadings. There will be strict deadlines imposed upon parties and counsel. “Counsel and their clients who apply to get their cases on this list will have to abide by strict deadlines. Mediation will also have to be part of the menu on offer. This, in my view, can achieve speedy and specialised resolution of disputes.”

“As soon as government appoints the judges that I have requested for and other infrastructural support is in place, I shall set in motion the creation of a commercial list to be dedicated to the resolution of commercial disputes in an expeditious manner,” said Mr Egonda-Ntende

G.T.

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