With the escalating levels of Covid-19 infection now going beyond 1000 cases a day and with a number of Court Officers having contracted the infection resulting in some unfortunate deaths, the Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo has issued new directives to court users.
In a June 7th, 2021 circular, Justice Owiny-Dollo says the revised guidelines shall remain in force for the next 42 days with effect from today, the 7th of June, 2021. Below are the guidelines;
All courts and Departments are hereby directed to immediately scale down operations to 30% physical presence and ensure that only critical staff remain to attend to the Court/office business on a daily basis.
The Heads of Courts and Departments should immediately work out a duty Rota by which staff shall work in rotation until further direction are issued. For the courts the duty Rota must include a judicial officer and very essential support staff.
All court registries must remain open to allow filing of cases.
Subject to the duty Rota all judicial and support staff shall work from home in their respective jurisdictions and shall be available for duty on call.
Hearing of cases
All court hearings and appearances are hereby suspended for the period of 42 days with effect from 7th Junes 2021. For cases at the stage of submissions, the respective courts may advise the counsel/parties to file written submissions through email address provided by the Court.
All execution proceedings and processes are hereby suspended for the same period o 42 days
Only urgent matters will be heard during the 42 days.
Judicial officers handling urgent business must operate in court halls or open spaces a t the courts. Whenever practicable virtual hearings of cases should be adhered to including insisting on written submissions, use of email, on-line delivery of judgments and audio-visual hearings and other modes of contactless communication.
Judicial officers presiding over urgent matters should ensure that only the ‘must attend’ parties actually attend court.
All judicial officers with pending judgments and rulings must utilize these 42 days to write and deliver them online.
Temporary closure of the Anti-Corruption Division
The Anti-Corruption Division is temporarily closed up to Friday 18th June 2021. Urgent matters for plea taking will be handled at Buganda Road Chief Magistrates’ court.
Hearing of election petitions
Hearing of all Parliamentary and Local Council election petitions will commence after 42 days.
Observance of Covid-19 Preventive Measures (SOPs)
All staff must strictly observe the SOPS issued by the President, Ministry of Health and the Chief Justice.
For avoidance of doubt, all staff and court users (attending court for urgent matters) must observe; Social distancing, Wearing of face masks, Checking of temperature levels, Hand washing and sanitization, Taking of covid-19 jab (vaccination), Remaining at home when feeling unwell, avoiaing crowding in and around the courts, offices and in public.
All staff who were close associates with the infected officers must undergo a covid-19 test and then go into isolation for at least 14 days.
All meetings, workshops and seminars involving more than 20 participants are hereby suspended until further notice.
These guidelines may be amended from time to time in line with the National Health Policy.