In an attempt to reduce waiting times for Court of Appeal cases, the Government has approved new legislation to increase the number of judges in the Court of Appeal. The purpose of the General Scheme of the Courts (Establishment and Constitution) (Amendment) Bill 2018 is to increase the number of judges in the Court of Appeal by 6, bringing the number of judges in the Court of Appeal to 16, i.e. a President and 15 ordinary judges.
Civil Court of Appeal cases can take up to an average of 2 years to be heard while it can take up to 6 months for criminal cases to be heard. When the Court of Appeal was first established, it inherited a huge volume of cases from the Supreme Court. 1,355 civil appeals were transferred from the Supreme Court to the Court of Appeal upon establishment of the new court in October 2014. The Court of Appeal clearly has a significant volume of work both in terms of the inherited caseload from the Supreme Court, as well as the volume of new cases it is receiving.
Both the President of the Court of Appeal and the Chief Justice recommended that additional judges were required to address delays in cases coming before the courts and to improve access to justice.
The new bill is expected to be published shortly. This is a welcome development to the courts’ infrastructure and will improve efficiency in the appeals process and the overall administration of justice.