Covid-19: JSC make more changes to court proceedings

The directive applies to the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, High Court and Labour Court and the Administrative Court of Zimbabwe.

The Chief Justice Luke Malaba has instructed Judges to grant or discard bail applications and urgent chamber applications on paper without the physical appearance of involved parties to make oral arguments before the courts.

The directive applies to the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, High Court and Labour Court and the Administrative Court of Zimbabwe.

Only the Magistrates’ Courts are exempted from this directive.

The development is an extension of the efforts by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) to decongest the courts as the country soldiers on in its fight against Coronavirus (Covid-19).

The beginning of level four lockdown in Zimbabwe which was effected on January 5, 2021, resulted in suspension of filing of new cases and other related court proceedings.

This practice direction applies to the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, High Court and Labour Court and the Administrative Court of Zimbabwe. In accordance with paragraph 7 of practice direction 1 of 2021, courts are currently offering limited services namely initial remands, urgent chamber applications and bail applications. This practice direction is designed to give guidance on the hearing of urgent chamber applications for the duration of the level four lockdown period,” noted CJ Malaba.

“With effect from January 22, 2021, a Judge may consider and dispose of an urgent chamber application on the papers without calling the parties to make oral representations or arguments. Provided that in respect of bail applications, parties will be at liberty to file heads of arguments with or immediately after filing their applications or appraising papers. This practice directive takes effect from January 22, 2021 and shall remain in effect until the expiry of the lockdown period, unless earlier extended or revoked.”

Meanwhile, during the course of this lockdown period, court registries shall be open for litigants and legal practitioners on weekdays between 8am and 3 pm to accept processes related to initial remands, urgent applications and bail applications.

The sheriff and the Messenger of Court are only serving processes relating to urgent applications but are not conducting any evictions, executions or sales in execution following there from.

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE)