UGANDA: Courts adopt online services to facilitate hearings during COVID-19 Lockdown

High Court Building; Judiciary adopts online court hearings; File Photo

As one of the efforts to promote social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the judiciary in Uganda has adopted electronic management of court cases, where almost all court processes will be handled using online services.

The new development comes days after the Chief Justice issued guidelines on use of online services as one of the measures to have the courts function better during the ongoing national lockdown due to coronavirus.

Under the new guidelines, court processes including delivery of judgements and rulings, hearings of bail applications, case mentions and issuance of court orders can be done online.

The guidelines also entail how parties relevant to the cases are invited and how they will attend online hearings.

Invitations to court proceedings will be done through electronic mail, Whats-up, or through the judiciary’s online hearing tool. Signed copies of judgement and rulings will be electronically sent to parties.

According to the Judiciary, the automated court processes will ensure timely and efficient delivery of justice during and after the lockdown.

With the system in place, the Judiciary says all persons who had previously failed to apply for bail due to measures put in place by prisons service, can apply for bail online.

Under this new arrangement, the hosts for court sessions will be Judiciary’s ICT department which will coordinate with each court to identify parties, register their accounts, invite and guide on how to effectively participate in court proceedings.

The participants in online proceedings include a judicial officer handling the case, clerks assigned to the case, advocates of the parties, the parties to a case, the media and any interested party.

However, once hearings are scheduled, the participants must keep time.

After the hearing, the record of proceedings of the online hearings will be generated by the judiciary ICT department from the recording done during the hearing.





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