903,000 cases still pending in lower courts… Mediation might be answer
KUALA LUMPUR: Mediation may be the answer to the mounting backlog of civil cases in the lower courts nationwide. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said mediation was widely practised in the banking, insurance and medical sectors, and reduced the number of litigants turning up in courts. He said such practice was accepted in the United States and the United Kingdom as going to court to settle disputes was an expensive affair.
“I believe many of the cases registered in the lower courts here could be disposed of through mediation. It is no more business as usual but business in a hurry because we have to resolve the matter in hand.” However, he said parties to a dispute must agree to abide by the mediation exercise carried out by an independent party.
Zaid said this measure must be looked into seriously because of the alarming number of pending cases in the lower courts. There are more than 900,000 unresolved cases in the lower courts alone. At the High Courts, the number of cases stands at more than 91,000. “Enough studies have been carried out by the government, the Bar Council and the Human Rights Commission on causes for the backlog. It is time we see results,” he said, adding he has given himself six months to reduce the number of unresolved cases.
“It is cause for concern because most of the cases involving the layman is in the lower courts.” Zaid said criminal cases could not proceed mainly because chemists’ reports were not ready, shortage of court staff and postponements. Zaid said he would be chairing a high-level implementation committee to execute specific plans to dispose of the cases in arrears.
The committee would look into:
– restructuring of all positions in the judicial department from the post of chief registrar of the Federal Court and below.
– Increasing the number of judges in all courts.
– Enhancing criminal investigations.
– Upgrading the infrastructure in courts, including employing more support staff like court interpreters.
– Improving case management.
– Enlisting the assistance of the Bar Council to get lawyers to act as mediators to reduce the backlog of cases in the lower courts.