The Judiciary has launched the Small Claims Procedure (SCP) arrangement to 14 more courts in Southern and western Uganda.
This raises the total number of courts utilizing the fast access to justice initiative to 142 courts.
Under the system, a complainant can get judgment within a day although the maximum period for delivering judgment is a month. This is opposed to the old system that can even last for five years or more.
The ‘Small Claims Procedure’ doesn’t involve the use of lawyers, which cuts the costs of the suit.
The process is limited to 30 working days for the siting magistrate to conclude with the case and individuals involved are at liberty to speak the local language.
Divided into two teams, Acting Registrar Small Claims Procedure’ Lillian Bucyana led a team that conducted the exercise in Western Uganda including courts at Kibito, Bwera, Katwe, Ntoroko, Karugutto, Kakumiro, Kagadi, and Kyegegwa.
The events were organized by the resident judicial officers; Mr. Okumu Jude Muwone (CM), Mr. Mwesiga Dan, Mr. Edgar Karakire, Mr. Kaiza Elias Abdallah, Mr. Elisha Arinaitwe, Mr. Lwanga Benedict, Mr. Wandera Wilson and Mulindwa Nathan.
Ms. Kagoya Jacklyn led the second team that took the rollout to courts in the greater Masaka region namely Kyotera, Kakuuto, Kyazanga, Mbirizi, and Kalungu.
Other courts that benefitted from the exercise were Kigumba and Semuto. The participating judicial official officers included Magistrates Grade One; Mfitundida George, Otim Moses, Basajjabalaba Jalia, Byamugisha Derick and Acaa Ketty Joan.
In order to observe COVID-19 SOPs, the launches were mainly attended by JLOS stakeholders, civic and religious leaders including the Resident District Commissioners, LC5 Chairpersons, District Police Commanders, and Resident State Attorneys, Prison Officers, and LC chairpersons among others.
The activities held included sensitization of participants, training of court staff on how to register and process small claims and launch of the Procedure.
While launching the Procedure at Kibiito court, the LCV Chairperson, Mr. James Ategeka Mugarama welcomed the initiative saying it minimizes the commission of crimes.
“Thank God Small Claims Procedure is here…I shall help spread this gospel so that people can learn to embrace courts instead of taking the law into their hands,” he
On the other hand, Mr Caleb Kwikiriza, the Resident District Commissioner of Kalungu hailed the Judiciary for such initiatives such as SCP that help people access justice easily. “Bringing SCP implies that the Judiciary is bringing services to the people,” he said.
Local leaders decried the vice of criminalizing civil matters especially those to do with recovery of debts. In response, the judicial officers appealed to the participants to act as ambassadors of SCP and educate their communities on the right procedures of litigating small claim matters.
HW Bucyana appealed to participants at all launches in the western region to embrace the procedure because “it’s affordable, quick, easy to use and most of all, one doesn’t need a lawyer.” While HW Kagoya laid emphasis on the need to document monetary transactions. “Write agreements when lending or borrowing even when it is to your siblings and be sure you understand what is written before you append your signature,”
The aim of SCP is to provide an inexpensive, fast and easy way for individuals and persons in business to resolve disputes without the need to hire a lawyer. It can be used to resolve matters arising from sale of goods on credit, tenancy arrears and friendly loans.