Legal fraternity reiterates call for digitization | Daily News

Legal fraternity reiterates call for digitization

Ayomi Aluwihare
Ayomi Aluwihare

The legal fraternity called on its operating framework to be more encompassing of digitized mechanisms. They noted that much can be done by way of allowing virtual meetings, digital documentation and centralized registries within short time frames.

F J & G de Saram’s Precedent Partner Ayomi Aluwihare said, “We have no means by which when we are asked if this asset has been mortgaged, we have no means of saying whether or not, this is because the registry is not digitized.”

Aluwihare was speaking on September 9 at the Reshape Europe 2022 conference organized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and EconomyNext.

Aluwihare when asked about key reforms said, “(We need) Digitization because that gets rid of a lot of this nonsense in the hands of an individual.”

Aluwihare noted that simple implementation of widely available technology concerning meetings and digital documentation is not beyond the scope of the country’s IT infrastructure. She said, “The resources are available in the country.”

Former Justice Minister and Current Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said though the legal system was fair there were issues concerning how it functioned. He said, “The functionality of it has always been debatable. Legal delays have been a perennial problem.”

When Sabry took over the Justice Ministry there was considerable documentation and analysis formulated by various bodies on the weakness of the legal system. He said, “When I took over, I saw a lot of things. Everyone knew what the problem was and a lot of them even knew what the solutions were too. What was lacking was a coherent process by which you could come out with these reforms.”

The Justice Ministry had previously been allocated a figure of Rs 500 million for a digitization drive but had been unable to spend the money. Sabry promised that the government would formulate minor claims and investor claims mechanisms that would look to expedite the legal process and help clear the legal backlog.

“We are introducing 2 court houses. One is a small claims court. Anything less than US$ 10,000 will be dealt with. We are in the process of introducing a pre-trial court and an investor court which would involve anything above Rs 100 million. We have increased the cadre of the Supreme Court and the Magistrate.” Sabry noted that the recent economic crisis had delayed the implementation.

82 new laws have gone to the Cabinet level and a large number of laws are yet to be presented to the Cabinet. He said, “Our laws are outdated. Without looking at that we can’t significantly improve the system.”

He added, “If you give your house on rent for six months and they overstay you to get it back you may have to wait for ten years. One law we are introducing is the leasehold right recovery process which is like debt recovery. Our idea is that within 6 months you should be able to recover the property.” Bar Association President Saliya Pieris said, “One thing we are trying to do is establish continuing professional development. Currently, once you take oaths you are a lawyer for life. Ultimately the decision must be with the supreme court.” DP

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