Zimbabwe’s courts have been mandated to be paperless by the end of this year and their digitalisation seems to have some pretty lofty goals that will definitely make our court system pretty interesting.
Chief Justice Malaba has reportedly already appointed a committee that will over see the digitisation process which is supposed to cut costs of litigation significantly.
What will be changing?
Below is the most significant developments that are supposed to come as a result of this development:
- Documents will be filed and served by electronic means, including electronic mail;
- Video conferencing will replace the physical court appearance as evidence will be led from different parts of the country electronically;
- Reducing travel costs as participants in court cases have to travel from as far as Gokwe to attend sessions in Harare.
Other benefits the government expects to derive from this system include time saved by shortening the procedure of court cases along with cutting expenses:
The major aim of the project is to reduce time taken to resolve a legal dispute. The most complicated cases, in terms of the new system, will take up to 12 months, while simple cases should not exceed three months.
Once we go electronic, litigation cost will be reduced by two thirds. Litigants or legal practitioners make submissions electronically via video link and they do not have to come to court physically.
The process is already said to be underway and hopefully this doesn’t become similar to ZBC’s digitisation which has been announced at different points over the last half a decade without tangible progress really materialising.
If Justice Mafusire’s comments are to be taken at face value then a lot of progress has already been made as he divulged that the court rooms are already being refurbished along with an audit of ICT equipment in order to see if said equipment can work at the required standard. He also disclosed that arrangements are being made in order to train officers to use the equipment being put in place.