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JSC moves to limit court attendances

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LITIGANTS are no longer required to physically attend court when filing applications in superior courts following a directive issued by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC).
This comes as the government has scaled down to 10 percent the number of staffers that report to work in their respective ministries and organisations as the nation intensifies its fight against Covid-19.

Under the new practice directive, which applies to the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, Labour Court, High  Court and Administrative Court, a judge is now empowered to dispose of a matter based on filed papers without necessarily calling parties to attend.

“In accordance with Practice Direction 1 of 2021 courts are currently offering limited services, namely initial remands, urgent processes and applications and bail applications.

“This practice is designed to give guidance on the hearing of urgent chamber and bail applications for the duration of the lockdown period,” the JSC said in a statement at the weekend.

“With effect from January 22, a judge may consider and dispose of an urgent chamber or bail application on the papers without calling the parties to make oral representations or arguments.

“Provided that in respect of bail applications parties shall be at liberty to file heads of argument with or immediately after filing their applications or opposing papers.”

The JSC last week shut down Karoi Magistrates’ Court after recording positive Covid-19 cases at the institution. All the urgent cases were being referred to Chinhoyi Magistrates’ Court in the interim as the court was expected to resume operations today.

“The measure is a precaution taken to allow decontamination of the premises, contact tracing and further tests after some members of staff at the station recently tested positive for Covid-19,” JSC said.

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