By Jariatu S. Bangura
Members of Parliament have enacted the Court (Amendment) Act 2023 for the increase jurisdiction of the Magistrates’ Courts in civil matters and for other related matters.
The amended provision was in Section 7. (1) which states that, ‘in addition to any civil jurisdiction which may be conferred upon Magistrates’ Courts by any other enactment, every such Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine any cause or matter other than an action founded upon libel, slander, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, seduction or breach of promise of marriage which may be lawfully brought before it and wherein the claim, debt, duty or matter in dispute does not exceed fifty million Leones (fifty thousand New Leones) in value, whether on balance of account or otherwise.’
Also, there was an amendment for the speedy resolution of civil and commercial matters at the Magistrates’ Court.
According to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohamed Lamin Tarawally, the amendment, among other issues, was to make sure that all cases that fall within the range of less than fifty million Leones or fifty thousand New Leones should solely be dealt with at the Magistrates’ Court, rather than being sent to the High Court for ruling.
He said the amendment was meant to reducing the number of cases piled and awaiting ruling by the High Court, and to also reduce the congestion in the correctional centres.
Hon. Mark Mahmoud Kalokoh commended the effort made in the amendment of such laws that have been a burden on citizens and called for more of such amendments to be done.
He said there were a lot of cases that needed not to be in court for longer period, but due to how the laws were drafted, the number continue to increase.
Hon. Shiaka Sama said one of the reasons for the congestion in the cells or holding centres was that the High Court was not calling a number of cases because most of the complainants were either dead or had abandoned the cases and leaving the perpetrators to languish in prisons.