MASERU — Lesotho on Tuesday launched an internet-based law reporting facility that will allow the judiciary to collect and publish legal information online.
Speaking at the launch of the Lesotho Legal Information Institute (Lesotho LII) Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla said the project will speed up the delivery of justice in the country.
“This is an occasion for us to celebrate the birth of a new tool that will, hopefully, change the way we have been delivering justice in a profound way,” Justice Lehohla said.
“The essence of this new development is that, commencing shortly, Lesotho will be able to publish its own judgments, legislation, bills, government gazettes, inquiry reports, green and white papers, cause lists and a lot other legal information
for free access by the broader members of our community,” he said.
“The initiative comes at a time when it is needed most,” Lehohla added.
“The necessity of this initiative in this Kingdom is beyond debate. Our country has suffered from a dearth of law reports. Our law reports are not up-to-date.
“In fact, in the days that we published law reports, these covered several years. The result was that reported decisions would only be available years after the decisions were made,” Lehohla said.
“I welcome this tremendous development as it will enhance the quality of justice, service delivery by our courts, the quality of counsel’s preparation and teaching of the law.
“A country with a clear legal system, able to resolve disputes expeditiously and at a cheaper cost will attract investment,” he said.
The chief justice said the Lesotho legal sector had for a long time relied on the Southern African Legal Information Institute to access information (SAFLII).
SAFLII collects legal information material from 16 countries and that means collection is not always up-to-date.
But funding at a regional level had become a challenge.
“It was always the idea that at some point, every jurisdiction would create its own law reporting facility.”
Justice Lehohla said lack of up-to-date legal information was unhealthy for justice.
“This is clearly unhealthy for any legal system. It makes it difficult for precedent to take root,” he said.
He added that without legal information the lower courts struggle to know newly developed laws by courts of record.
“You can imagine the challenges this has had on the delivery of justice in general and the development of our law,” he said.
Lesotho’s first legal information institute was set up with help from the African Legal Information Institute (African LII).
An official from African LII, Kerry Anderson, said it is important that every country has its own legal information institute.
“The information is more relevant and people can easily relate to it. People learn more about the legal procedures as the information is accessed free of charge,” Anderson said.