The annual re-opening ceremony of the Supreme Court of Seychelles is deeply entrenched in tradition. After the Church Service, the Chief Justice of Seychelles, Head of the third Branch of Government, the Judiciary, led an impressive parade in Victoria. The parade consisted of Supreme Court Judges, State prosecutors, Attorneys-at-law, and Judiciary staff.
In her address to members of the Judiciary and the legal practitioners, Chief Justice Mathilda Twomey commended the hard work that is done on a daily basis by lawyers and Judges to clear court cases.
“In 2013 the whole judiciary at the time — the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court, Magistrates’ Court and Rent Board — completed 2,729 cases. In 2014, this amount decreased to 2,565. In 2016, these same courts cleared 5,335 cases, and up to mid-November 2017, a total of 5,149 cases were cleared. In other words, more cases are being cleared in a single year than in 2013 and 2014 combined,” CJ Twomey has highlighted.
“We are happy to note as well that the quality of the cases cleared and judgments delivered has improved. There is a significant rise in court usage time and the disposal rate of cases has improved in line with the Delay Reduction Time guidelines introduced by my predecessor, Chief Justice Fredrick Egonda-Ntende. We will continue to aim for constitutional and commercial cases to be completed in 6 months, criminal cases within a year and civil cases within two years from the filing date. With these improvements in disposal rates we have not seen any reduction in the quality of the decisions delivered, which is self-evident from the judgments on Seylii, the website of the Judiciary and would be reflected in successful appeals which statistics have not significantly changed,” CJ Twomey stated.
She pointed out that in 2017 these clearance rates have been achieved with fewer judicial officers at all levels as some positions stood open for some time and there remain vacancies at judicial and magistrates level which have not yet been filled.
“I need to acknowledge the hard work that our different judicial officers put into the clearance of cases. But I am also aware of the partnerships which have enabled such successes to be achieved. I am grateful for the assistance of the President, the relevant ministers and the National Assembly in ensuring that we were well supported and resourced enough to begin to achieve our ambitions. Our most important partners are, of course, the esteemed lawyers who attend in our courtrooms. We are aware of the tremendous pressure that has been placed on you by our increased work schedule. I applaud you for rising to the challenges, for your commitment to your clients and for your nearly miraculous ability to spirit yourselves between our various courtrooms, appearing as if teleported, just in time,” she said.
She also expressed her pride at the thankless work done by all the Magistrates, who are also expected to run the Rent Board, Employment Tribunal, Juvenile Court and Family Tribunal. In these tasks they are assisted by dedicated persons who sit on those tribunals and whose efforts are still not adequately financially rewarded.
“The Family Tribunal has made great improvements under the leadership of Judge Pillay first and then Magistrate Asba assisted by Magistrate Burian and Mrs Aglae and their hardworking Tribunal members. We acknowledge the high number of sensitive and complicated cases which they take on a daily basis and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude,” CJ Twomey remarked.