Monday, June 17, 2024

Newly sworn-in judge vows to strive to deliver speedy, efficient and prompt justice

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By Alieu Jallow

Justice Sarah Aryee has vowed to deliver fast, effective, and timely justice after being sworn in as a judge in the High Court.

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“Speedy, efficient and prompt justice delivery is my mantra and I hold great belief in the saying that justice delayed is justice denied. It is in no way hurried but efficient and timely delivery of justice and I will strive to demonstrate and replicate these passions I had practised in my court where I have had to start and finish a trial in 5 days, that’s from a Monday to a Friday but of course with the able assistance of the lawyers,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Chief Justice of The Gambia, Hassan B Jallow, emphasized the public’s concerns about delays in the hearing and resolution of cases. He urged all stakeholders in the administration of justice to be sensitive to these concerns and to respond with effective measures, both individually and collectively.

“It is always said that justice delayed is justice denied; that justice is sweetest when it is freshest. The hearing and determination of one’s case within a reasonable time is a constitutionally guaranteed right. It is not an absolute right but one that is determined by various circumstances.

“It is a right nonetheless which we must all strive continuously to respect and observe. We are aware that by its nature some delay is inherent in the judicial process. Some delay is unavoidable. The right to a fair hearing for instance requires that each party to a case be given adequate time and opportunity to present their case, if possible, by calling witnesses and to test the case of the other side for instance through examination of their witnesses and evidence.

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“At the end of it all a judicial officer needs time for research, for reflection and analysis of the dossier and then to write a judgement. All this whilst hearing other cases as well. Such a process requires considerable time, effort and energy in order to do the right thing.

“It is a very difficult and time-consuming task. We must all nonetheless, notwithstanding the challenges, Judges, Magistrates, Cadis, Lawyers, Prosecutors and even litigants and witnesses, enhance our diligence in the execution of our respective mandates in the judicial process in order to expedite cases and give real meaning to our mission statement and commitment to deliver quality justice expeditiously.

“We can do so with regard to delays that are not inherent in the process and delays that are avoidable in order to minimise or eliminate such avoidable delays,” he said.

The Chief highlighted that many of the factors which impact the speed and efficiency of the judicial process are beyond the control of the judiciary and the legal profession underlining the explosion of court cases in recent years which seems to create an enormous workload for all the Courts. Individual judges, magistrates and cadis who are confronted with a workload of on average close to two hundred cases with a growing list noting such a workload becomes hard to manage properly.

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“Efforts by the judiciary for out-of-court settlement of civil cases already within the system must be accompanied by strengthening of dispute resolution within the community to reduce the inflow of cases into the courts. The Courts are not meant to resolve all disputes which arise in the country.

“The courts are there to resolve only those disputes that cannot be settled amicably. We must check our tendency to be an over-litigious society. Litigation should be a measure of last resort. No judicial system, no matter how well-resourced can cope effectively with the disputes of a community based on the philosophy and practice of litigating all disputes. Mediation, negotiation and conciliation need to be made strong partners of litigation for effective dispute resolution in our community,” he said.

Officials believed that the swearing-in of a new judge into the justice system would help boost the efficiency and expedite the pile lock of cases.

 

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