Acknowledging the role played by lawyers, members of the Judiciary and court staff in exacerbating laws delays, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) proposed several remedies including the introduction of the pre-trial stage for both civil and criminal cases.
“The main issue is laws delays. In order to curtail laws delays, we suggest the pre-trial stage where all parties meet in the judge’s chamber,” President elect of BASL Udaya Rohan de Silva said last week.
De Silva made this observation while voicing his opinion of the inordinate issue of laws delays that have rendered the administration of justice to litigants a far off prospect.
Elsewhere, he said that even though there was a circular issued by the Judicial Service Commission for Courts to have daily proceedings of cases, there was unfortunately a problem in the implementation.
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) is scheduled to hold discussions with the Ministry of Justice and the relevant authorities with regard to addressing laws delays and the implementation of the pre-trial stage in both criminal and civil cases.
According to de Silva, there are issues of a procedural nature which are the reasons for this. “In Magistrate’s Courts, this cannot be done as dates for appearances have been given for the police on all days while officers can only appear only on certain days,” he added.
Elsewhere, the defence counsel or the prosecution may say that a witness is not ready or is abroad, in which case there is no point in going ahead with the case, he said.
“In a civil case, documentation may not have been properly filed. Important documents such as survey reports which are required in inquiries pertaining to claims and elsewhere, medical reports may not be available.”
He said that in District Courts and High Courts too there exists a similar situation.
De Silva also noted that an attitudinal change too was required on the part of the parties including the judges, the Court staff and the lawyers.
Senior lawyers of the BASL and retired judges are planning on initiating a dialogue with judges to discuss various subjects through seminars including the national Law conference and provincial national Law conferences in order to educate outstation judges and lawyers at the grassroots level.
The Convocation of the unofficial bar is scheduled to be held on March 25 and President Maithripala Sirisena is scheduled to attend. He further pointed out the need for there to be a cordial relationship between the bar and the judiciary in order to mete out justice.
De Silva also raised concerns about the plight of junior members of the private bar, adding that the apprenticeship period of six months was not a successful one. He said that there should be more of an emphasis on practical aspects of the Law.
“What will happen to the junior lawyers? We cannot ignore them. They need help. They must be provided with various avenues to diverse areas of law, especially in the commercial and corporate sector and in intellectual property.”
The BASL is planning on working towards the immediate implementation of these proposals. He also highlighted the role of the Legal Aid Commission in this regard.