Time limit for lawyers
Jan 5, 2011

A new judicial post in the judicial system is to be established this year to prevent delays in the hearing of cases and to maintain time management in courts by allocating a specific timeframes for the disposal of cases, a senior Justice Ministry official said yesterday.

A post of ‘ Master’ will be created to assist the court and litigants for the speedy disposal of cases by introducing amendments to the Civil Procedure Code as the delays in hearing of cases have affected the smooth administration of justice in the country, Justice Ministry Secretary Suhada Gamlath told the Daily Mirror.

“The main function of the Master will be to coordinate all court cases from the Magistrate Courts to the Supreme Court on the instructions of the sitting judge / judges and allocate a specific time frame for the counsel of both parties to argue the case. Counsel will not be permitted to exceed their allotted time in making submissions,” Mr. Gamlath said. He said the court registrar will also be consulted in this exercise and every litigant and counsel will be informed in writing by the Master, particulars of the case such as the date, the time allotted for argument etc.

There will be a pre-trial conference by the Master with court officials to determine the exact time given to a party. Litigants will receive an official intimation from the Master accordingly. The Justice Ministry will consult the Chief Justice, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, the Attorney General and any others directly involved in the administration of justice before the amendments are presented in Parliament, he stressed.

The Justice Ministry expects to conduct an analytical study on the time management in courts before the system is put in place,” Mr. Gamlath said.

Every court will have a separate Master and they would be appointed after calling for applications from lawyers. The full time post will be an appointment by the Judicial Services Commission.

The new judicial procedure will prevent counsel from using court time unnecessarily for long periods. It will also save money of the litigants as they have a clear picture of their case before paying the counsel.

He said time management in courts had been in existence productively in countries like Britain, United States, Australia and Singapore for several years.

The Master will also be empowered to bring feuding parties to an out of court settlement by mediation when the value of the cause of action does not exceed 10 million rupees.

When the value of the cause of action exceeds ten million, the parties shall be entitled to legal representation and the counsel for the plaintiff and the defendant shall assist the judge or Master in bringing about a settlement.

The Master and the counsel for the parties will endeavour to bring parties to mediation through amicable settlement and to remove, with their consent the real cause of grievance between them so as to prevent a recurrence of the dispute and to arrive at any settlement that is acceptable to both parties.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka