- Law Society wants senior lawyers to be appointed to the bench for short periods
- High court registrar and master says it is not sustainable
- LSB says it is actually more sustainable than AOJ thinks
Although discussions to appoint senior lawyers to the bench are still at preliminary stages, High Court Registrar and Master, Michael Motlhabi, has already trashed the Law society of Botswana (LSB)’s idea that senior lawyers be considered for short term periods to the bench as a faster way to manage and dispose cases.
Speaking to The Botswana Gazette, the registrar said, “In pursuit of Judicial Case Management acting appointments for short periods are not sustainable.” He however declined to make comments on other aspects of the proposal saying as he does not have the full information on the matter.
“I am unable to sufficiently respond to the issues raised as I do not have the benefit of what the law society is alleged to have said on the issue of acting appointments of judges,” he said.
Currently cases take a longer time to be resolved in Botswana, a calamity the LSB says is tantamount to injustice. Although still in the corridors, sources say the issue has already been discussed in the corridors has been gaining momentum. Last week the LSB said a few authorities had already expressed hope on the idea panning out, one of them being the attorney general, Advocate Abraham Keetshabe.
Contacted this week, LSB Chairman, Kgalalelo Monthe, said it was unfortunate that the registrar has already poured scorn on the idea before it is even presented to them. “Nonetheless we will be continuing with the proposal to the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security. We will engage the minister and show him why we say this is a noble proposal to address judicial case management,” he said, adding that it is unfortunate that we still have cases that are resolved after so many years.
He trashed the registrar’s position on sustainability, saying, “It is actually more sustainable than the administration of Justice thinks.” If you engage people for a short period, you do not have to worry about accommodation, pensions and other issues. What we are saying is that judges should take care of trials while senior lawyers take care of others that can be decided on a short period.,” added Monthe.
The Chief justice, Maruping Dibotelo in the just-ended judicial conference expressed delight at the rate at which cases are disposed.
In his opening remarks he said, “The Judicial case management JCM reform has from inception steadily and gradually expedited service delivery, resulting in quick and increased case disposal rate. The success of this reform is rooted in its acceptance and embrace by the stakeholders and the public at large as its fruits are tangible.”
During the period 1st February 2017 to 31st May 2017, 2480 civil cases and 419 criminal cases were registered at the three High Court Divisions in Francistown, Gaborone and Lobatse. During the same period, a total of 2 757 civil cases and 328 criminal cases were completed, including cases brought forward. In percentage terms, this translates into 111.2% and 78.3% completion rate for civil cases and criminal cases respectively in the three High Court Divisions.
At the Magistrates Courts, 4 218 civil cases and 2 209 criminal cases were registered during the period 1st February 2017 to 31st May 2017. Still in the same period, Magistrates Courts completed a total of 6 993 civil cases and 1 697 criminal cases including cases brought forward which translates into 165.7% and 76.8% completion rates respectively in percentage terms. Again, during the same period, 1 418 maintenance cases were registered at the Magistrates Courts out of which 2 448 were completed including cases brought forward. This translated into the disposal rate of 172.6% of the maintenance cases by the Magistrates Courts.