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Lesotho plans to set up small claims court

by Lesotho Times
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MASERU — The government in conjunction with the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) is planning to set up a small claims court as part of its legal reform project.

Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla told a media briefing that there are plans to set up a small claims court to deal specifically with light disputes.

But he did not specify the timeframe for the setting up of the court.

“With regard to the small claims court I hope it will be implemented soon.

“But it might take some time because it involves making rules for that particular court,” Lehohla said.

He was briefing the media at the civil legal reform project’s inaugural session at the High Court yesterday.

However, the principal judge of the Ugandan High Court, Justice James Ogoola, said the small claims court might also adjudicate cases without the involvement of lawyers arguing in court.

“We are going to establish small claims mechanism to deal with the small commercial claims whereby cases will be resolved, maybe without engaging lawyers,” Ogoola said.

Ogoola is the head of the International Law Institute – African Centre for Legal Excellence (ILI-ACLE) which is working in conjunction with the High Court and magistracy to implement a two-year civil legal reform project.

The Law Society of Lesotho’s representative at the inaugural session of the civil legal reform project, Advocate Nkoya Thabane, said the society supports the establishment of both commercial and small claims courts.

“The law society thinks there is need to establish commercial court and the small claims court.

“We are going to be part of the whole thing,” Thabane said.

On December 16 last year, MCA-Lesotho entered into a contract with the ILI-ACLE for technical assistance services to the civil legal reform project designed to address challenges within the legal system.

The technical assistance has been targeted towards, among other things, design and implementation of a strategy for the establishment of a small claims procedure within the magistrates’ court in Maseru.

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