Court report to name target failure points-• 2,000 recordings transcribed


The Palais de Justice complex is expected to be in use soon

The 70-page report he issued last week already shows the performance of specific courts of law, showing for example how many minutes a judge or magistrate actually sat in his courtroom.

It also says nearly 2,300 analogue recordings dating back many years have been transcribed and the recordings saved in digital format.

Saying the public are the judges – helped in that role by greater transparency of the courts for example through the report and new website – Mr Egonda-Ntende said aspects that led to chronic case backlog that could be fixed with non-human resources, but changing workers’ attitude to step up productivity is likely to take longer.

He also hinted there will be some interruption of court processes when the China-funded Palais de Justice building is handed over as the staff move to the new complex.

“A final inspection will be carried out by a team visiting from the People’s Republic of China.

 The hand-over to the judiciary on behalf of the Seychelles government can begin once this inspection is complete but moving from the present location will, however, have to begin well before the hand-over date and may result in interruptions in the services of the judiciary during the transition,” he said.

Among the areas in which there has been a marked change is in the recording and transcription of court proceedings.

The chief justice said recording of proceedings on magnetic tapes in the Supreme Court was replaced in 2010 when seven sets of digital audio recording apparatus were bought.

“However, about 2,300 old magnetic cassette tapes, with associated stenographic or
longhand notes, remained to be transcribed. This administrative backlog produced serious
delays in the final resolution of some proceedings and has required significant time and
resource commitment to resolve,” he said.

“Each of the cassettes is either 60 or 90 minutes long. The record in a single case is often
spread across a number of cassettes, and a single cassette may include information relating to
more than one case depending on the daily cause list for the relevant courtroom.

“Over 800 of the old cassettes were transcribed directly by current court reporting staff
between 2010 and the end of 2012. The remaining 1,450 cassettes or so were recorded by staff who have since left the judiciary,” he said, adding it was necessary to employ contractors to work on the cassettes.

“By December 31, 2012, more than half of the outsourced cassettes had been digitised and fewer than 400 cassettes remained as at the beginning of March 2013.”

He said although the new digital recording and transcription system promises to be significantly more efficient, reliable and secure, there is still a problem with the timely transcription for some proceedings which is the main cause of delay in hearing some appeals in the Court of Appeal – “with appeals unable to proceed until a full record is obtained from the Supreme Court”.

“Further work is needed to ensure that stenographers/court reporters are sufficiently productive and adequately supervised in the use of new digital technologies,” says the report, which notes it is also necessary to extend the new recording and transcription technology to the Court of Appeal, which has so far continued to record its proceedings on magnetic tapes.