ECOWAS court set to clear backlogs of cases

After updating its practice direction on the conduct of virtual court sessions, the ECOWAS Court of Justice on Wednesday declared its readiness to clear the backlog of cases before it.

According to the court president, Justice Edward Asante, the new initiative would enable it to discharge its obligation.

The court also said it has updated the electronic filing of processes, according to the Supplementary practice direction.

A copy of the Practice Direction, signed by the court’s President, Justice Edward Asante, was circulated to the Registry, Agents and lawyers representing parties before the Court.

Asante said the practice direction was part of the court’s efforts to adapt to the challenges posed by the raging COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the court to suspend its session.

He said the updated practice direction on Electronic Case Management and Virtual Court Session came into force on May 13, 2020.

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According to him, this will enable the court resume its sessions which were suspended through a statement on March 20, because of coronavirus pandemic.

“Resumption will enable us to clear the backlog of cases and hear the increasing number of cases brought before the court in order to enable it to discharge its obligation timely to litigants,” the president explained.

He said the updated nine-page direction would enable the court deepen the integration of information technology into its processes for greater efficiency.

”It will also improve access for litigants which will be useful post-COVID-19 in reducing the cost of litigation and beneficial mostly for indigent litigants.

”In updating the direction, the court relied on the provisions of Article 100 of its Rules of Procedure with the objectives of ensuring the safety of Judges, Staff and court users.

”The timely dispensation of justice; the deployment of suitable technology for its case management system and court sessions, and the efficient use of available (judicial and administrative) resources,” he said.

Asante noted further that it has become imperative for the court to explore the use of Electronic Case Management System for electronic filing (e-filing) and Virtual Court Sessions.

He said where necessary, physical court sessions may hold under strict conditions, in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

”Moreover, the direction will enable the court to continue in the hearing of cases on its Cause List, giving preference to interim/intervening (interlocutory) applications, post-judgment applications and other such matters requiring urgent decisions within a specified period of cases”, he said.



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