Oct 02, 2017 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Justice Minister recently revealed that country’s Commercial High Court alone had over 5,000 cases pending by March this year.
The Commercial High Court has jurisdiction to hear civil actions arisen out of commercial transactions in which the damage exceeds 5 million rupees.
By March this year, the number of cases pending in the Commercial High Court was 5,580 while the total number of cases pending in the High Court was 16,574.
At the end of 2015, there were about 16,960 cases pending in High Court while at the end of October 2016, the number was 17,038.
The number of cases pending in the Civil Appellate High Court at the end of 2015 was 6,347.
“This is a very unhealthy state of affairs,” said Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorala addressing the Junior National Law Conference 2017.
“I cannot but refer to the delays experienced in our system of courts and the harassment and the mental agony that litigants are subjected to as a result,”
Justice Minister emphasized that lawyers including juniors have a significant role to play in expediting the process.
“It is in your hands significantly ameliorate this situation by not only avoiding requesting for dates but diligently studying your briefs and addressing court to the point without wasting the time of court.”
The Government recently introduced an amendment to the current law which seeks to increase the cadre of 75 High Court Judges up to 85, with the aim of expediting the process further.
Sri Lanka’s neighbor, India, this week reported that the number of pending cases in their Supreme Court and high courts has fallen in the last three years.
According to figures they released, the top court had 62,791 pending cases at the end of 2014 and fell to 59,272 in December 2015.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s cabinet last week approved a proposal to amend the law for protecting the rights of detainees.
“This is in addition to the corresponding right of the suspect to have access to a lawyer. It constitutes a significant enhancement of the rights of a suspect under our law,” she said.
“It may interest you to know that this amendment was developed with the full cooperation of the Bar Association.”
Minister added that the ministry is also going to present a bill to the cabinet soon in order to provide the parties to a case with one certified copy of the judgment free of charge.