The Judiciary has rolled out small claims procedure to 14 new courts bringing the total number of courts utilizing the fast access to justice initiative to 142.
Her Worship Lillian Bucyana, the Ag Assistant Registrar in Charge of Small Claims Procedure registry and Magistrate Grade One, HW Jackline Kagoya spearheaded the exercise.
Divided into two teams, Ms Bucyana led a team that conducted the exercise in Western Uganda including courts at Kibito, Bwera, Katwe, Ntoroko, Karugutto, Kakumiro, Kagadi and Kyegegwa.
The events were organised by the resident judicial officers; Mr Okumu Jude Muwone (CM), Mr. Mwesiga Dan, Mr. Edgar Karakire, Mr. Kaiza Elias Abdallah, Mr. Elisha Arinaitwe, Mr. Lwanga Benedict, Mr. Wandera Wilson and Mulindwa Nathan.
HW Bucyana appealed to participants at all launches to embrace the procedure because “it’s affordable, quick, easy to use and most of all, one doesn’t need a lawyer.”
Similarly, the Ms Kagoya-led team took the rollout to courts in the greater Masaka region namely Kyotera, Kakuuto, Kyazanga, Mbirizi and Kalungu.
Other courts that benefitted from the exercise were Kigumba and Semuto. The participating judicial official officers included Magistrates Grade One; Mfitundida George, Otim Moses, Basajjabalaba Jalia, Byamugisha Derick and Acaa Ketty Joan.
HW Kagoya laid emphasis on the need to document monetary transactions.
“Write agreements when lending or borrowing even when it is to your siblings and be sure you understand what is written before you append your signature,” HW Kagoya said at the launch of the Procedure at Mbirizi court.
She added that written evidence is the best for SCP courts.
The Magistrate also warned against the practice of drafting misleading agreements, “one is lending out money but the wording says you’re selling your marital home.”
In order to observe COVID-19 SOPs, the launches were mainly attended by JLOS stakeholders, civic and religious leaders including the Resident District Commissioners, LC5 Chairpersons, District Police Commanders, Resident State Attorneys, Prison Officers, and LC chairpersons among others.
The activities held included sensitization of participants, training of court staff on how to register and process small claims and launch of the Procedure.
While launching the Procedure at Kibito court, the LC V Chairperson, Mr James Ategeka Mugarama welcomed the initiative saying it minimizes the commission of crimes. “Thank God Small Claims Procedure is here, I shall help spread this gospel so that people can learn to embrace courts instead of taking the law into their hands.”
On the other hand, Mr Caleb Kwikiriza, the Resident District Commissioner of Kalungu hailed the Judiciary for such initiatives such as SCP that help people access justice easily. “Bringing SCP implies that the Judiciary is bringing services to the people,” he said.
Local leaders decried the vice of criminalizing civil matters especially those to do with recovery of debts. In response, the judicial officers appealed to the participants to act as ambassadors of SCP and educate their communities on the right procedures of litigating small claim matters.
The aim of SCP is to provide an inexpensive, fast and easy way for individuals and persons in business to resolve disputes without the need to hire a lawyer. It can be used to resolve matters arising from sale of goods on credit, tenancy arrears and friendly loans.