Oct 13, 2009, 4:11 AM
The recent announcement by the office of the Chief Justice of courts in The Gambia to commence sitting on Saturdays with effect from 18th July 2009 is indeed a welcome development.
We used this opportunity to commend the Chief Justice for the move, as the release says the move is a response to the huge build up of backlog of cases and difficulties being experienced by unrepresented litigants in the courts, where priority has always been given to cases involving lawyers or represented litigants.
"The objective of the scheme is to expedite the hearing of civil and criminal cases, as part of current strategies to address the problems of backlog and delays in the system," the release stated. We hope that this important scheme is here to stay.
"The cases covered by the scheme include those that involve lay litigants who are not represented by lawyers and non-contentious issues. No cases scheduled under the scheme will be adjourned and the parties coming to the Saturday sittings must be ready to proceed with their cases to conclusion," the release added.
The scheme is no doubt a challenge for the entire court system particularly the magistrates, lawyers, court clerks and interpreters, but is a scheme worth trying.
However, the million dollar question is that whether the stakeholders would endeavour to attend these Saturday sittings. We encourage all stakeholders to give scheme due consideration, otherwise the aim of the scheme would be defeated.
We are of the opinion that this is a noble scheme that would further enhance our quest for speedy dispensation of justice. It's a matter of fact that when cases are delayed litigants are always left in frustration. We have no doubt that this recent development in our court system would definitely address some of these problems if given the necessary consideration.
We therefore implore all and sundry to cooperate with the courts to achieve the objectives of the new scheme.
As the saying goes: "Justice delayed, is justice denied."