Effective commercial dispute resolution has many benefits. Courts are essential for entrepreneurs because they interpret the rules of the market and protect economic rights. Efficient and transparent courts encourage new business relationships because businesses know they can rely on the courts if a customer fails to pay.
Speedy trials are essential for small enterprises, which may lack the resources to stay in business while awaiting the outcome of a long court dispute.
According to data collected by Doing Business, contract enforcement takes 230 days and costs 82.7% of the value of the claim in Rwanda.
Economies in all regions have improved contract enforcement in recent years. Higher-income economies tend to look for ways to enhance efficiency by introducing new technology. Lower-income economies often work on reducing backlogs by introducing periodic reviews to clear inactive cases from the docket and by making procedures faster.
As for Rwanda, in 2013 it made enforcing contracts easier by implementing an electronic filing system for initial complaints.
And just recently, an electronic case management system for judges and lawyers and publication of judgments was introduced.
Introduction of integrated case management system: A fully functioning of integrated Case Management System was launched in 2016 throughout the judicial sector. The main objective of the system is to prevent the loss and physical damage of files, enhance Information Accessibility, enable case reproduction and eliminate duplication of case information within the sector, on-the-fly accurate reporting (effective and efficient judicial system), modernize the sector’s operations and accurate Action Audits and security.
This system was launched at the beginning of the year and it is used by all stakeholders of justice in the country, namely, the police, prosecutors, clerks, judges and the litigants especially the lawyers. The system is connected right from the smallest level of justice to the Supreme Court. Trainings have been done to stakeholders and today, many cases have received, tried and ruled using the system in commercial courts.
The system caters for the whole case lifecycle right from case entry- through litigation to case closure. It is highly customizable which makes it easy for the creation and follow up of tasks and appointments.
The system has streamlined services in justice sector in terms of reduction of time, transparency, has eliminated risks of tampering with files. Further, the system has helped in quickening the generation reports at any time needed and any kind of report like; (i) time to conclude a case file thus disposition report; (ii) case clearance rate report; (iii) age of pending cases report; and (iv) Single case progress reports
The system is capable of sending out summons, orders, scheduling dates for hearing electronically to the intended stakeholders.
Publication of Judgments: All judgments are published on the official website. Before the reform, judgments would be in hard copies and each party interested in a copy would pay at the bank, take a bank slip to court clerk and could get a copy. All judgments at all levels of courts are now published on the judicial website.
“Time and costs have been saved since you don’t have to go to the court anymore to search and obtain judgments. Further transparency has been created for the justice sector and also quality judgment has been registered since judges know that, their names will appeal on the judgment sheet and to public viewing,” Tushabe noted.