DAR ES SALAAM: CHIEF Justice Prof Ibrahim Juma has called for major amendments to laws for the dispensation of justice to address loopholes that contribute to delays in the determination of cases.
Prof Juma gave the plea yesterday at an award-giving ceremony to various stakeholders organised by the High Court of Tanzania Mediation Centre in Dar es Salaam.
“There is a very big problem in our legal system. There are many processes. There are many loopholes and unfortunately, our legal profession is built on relying on those loopholes,” the Chief Justice said.
He explained that one of the important reforms in the 21st century that has to be made is mediation and such reforms are based on the fact that judicial procedures and laws, including civil and criminal codes, were enacted in the context of the 18th or 19th century.
“That’s why there was a time when a Professor from the United States came and after studying our civil procedure code, the criminal procedure act and the law of evidence, he wrote a paper and said that they are all outdated,” the Chief Justice explained.
In his paper, the American scholar stated that the laws he reviewed have many corners that provide opportunities for objections and allow litigants to return to court even after the case has been determined and the hearing could start afresh.
“Our colleagues in the Ministry of Education have re-examined the education system, we have not looked at the legal education system and even the amendments to the law we are making are in piece meals. We are not looking at the amendments as a whole and that is why there are so many challenges,” Prof Juma said.
Thus, the Chief Justice pointed out that in addition to encouraging citizens to resolve disputes through mediation, there was also a need to review all laws as the existing procedures give opportunities for cases to take more than five or six years.
“Is there a need for a land dispute to start at the ward and then go to the land tribunal, High Court where there are many objections, there are many applications before landing to the Court of Appeal and then you expect a country to be competitive in business and investment.
“That’s why lawyers will tell you that’s where we get our food, without those corners we can’t get anything. Therefore, the delay for others is a benefit that provides them with income, so there is an absolute need to review our laws,” he said.
Prof Juma gave an example of the Court of Appeals which has made great efforts to reduce the time of the case to remain in court and the existing procedure shows that it should not exceed two years since it was registered.
“There are some customers who were complaining that we are going too fast because they know that once they appeal to the Court of Appeal, everything will stop and they will continue to make a profit. Those whose income depends on the delay will not like the reform. Therefore, there are many areas that we need to work on,” he said.
The Chief Justice explained that some people say that even the legal education from the Universities, the Law School is built on the context of the 18th or 19th century and that is why they have problems in technology and globalisation issues since the technological revolution has brought reforms that the laws cannot accommodate.
“If you go to other countries, they don’t study degree studies that we are taking here now, they have added technology studies, business studies because the world has changed,” Prof Juma has said.
He explained that in the World Economic Forum meetings, they say that among the professions that are in danger of being lost due to the revolution is law and it may be lost because they are still treading in the same places that their ancestors trod while the world changed.
Before speaking at the event, the Chief Justice launched a report prepared by the High Court Mediation Centre on the study of the use of alternative dispute resolution and later awarded 23 awards to various stakeholders for their contribution to the arbitration issues.
Speaking before inviting the Chief Justice, the Judge in charge of the High Court’s Mediation Centre, Ms Zahra Maruma explained that the concept of giving awards to recognise the contribution of Mediators and Arbitrators is one of the strategies in encouraging the use of mediation methods in conflict resolution.
She said the event opens a new page of productive cooperation in recognising the contributions of stakeholders who have done a good job as the resolution of conflicts through mediation sets a positive mark and saves costs and time to provide opportunities for citizens to participate in activities to promote a sustainable economy as a national vision explains.
Judge Maruma congratulated all the Mediators who succeeded in mediating disputes at their level and positions which, in one way or another, have helped speed and access to justice and contributed to the implementation of the third pillar of the judiciary strategic plan.