Saturday, 19 March 2011

CJ Tun Zaki Azmi tells lawyers that clearing of case backlog to proceed despite their protest

Readers you be the judge of the ongoing tug of war between the Chief Justice and the Bar Council:


Lawyers mull boycott, march to protest KPIs
The Malaysian Insider
March 16, 2011


KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 — The Malaysian Bar Council has been given the mandate by lawyers to consider a boycott of the courts or to organise a march to protest Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi’s key performance indicators (KPIs) in courts.


The Malaysian Insider understands that a boycott and a protest march were among the drastic measures discussed at last weekend’s Bar annual general meeting which passed a no-confidence resolution against Zaki and gave council members the power to decide on “appropriate steps to protest.”


Tommy Thomas, the prominent lawyer who had moved the resolution at the AGM, said that litigation lawyers and even police investigating officers were at “breaking point” over the use of key performance indicators (KPIs) in courts.


This was because judges were insisting on their appearance in different courts because of pressure to clear cases from the KPIs.


Thomas told The Malaysian Insider that applying KPIs in the courts was similar to applying it in hospitals.


“Common sense will tell you that applying KPIs to surgeons in a hospital is stupid.


“Similarly you cannot generalise when it comes to trial. It will depend on the circumstances of the case. Some trials will require one day, some will require one week and some others may require a longer time,” he told The Malaysian Insider in an interview this week.


Criminal lawyers and police investigating officers approached by The Malaysian Insider have also confirmed that KPIs are wreaking havoc on the criminal justice system.


This is because police investigating officers are required to appear as prosecution witnesses, but their involvement in different cases at the same time is compounded by the insistence of various judges for them to turn up in different courts at the same time.


At last weekend’s Bar AGM, newly-elected Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee told reporters that despite talks with Zaki, judges and judicial officers still “misbehaved” in order to meet the KPI requirements, which in turn affected the administration of justice.


Lim had said the courts sometimes brought forward hearing dates without counsel’s consent, rushed to close cases and failed to give enough time for lawyers to prepare a defence in criminal trials involving serious offences.


Lawyers were “crying out” as they were not being given enough time to interview witnesses, prepare written submissions or draft appeals due to the current “compacted” nature of court proceedings, he said.


In an interview this week, Thomas confirmed that protest measures discussed at the AGM include a boycott and a protest march.


“Lawyers must have enough time to prepare. No two cases are the same and no two litigants are the same,” he said.


“They always say that there are 13,000 lawyers but actually there are only about 5,000 who do court work as advocates. If there is a perception that these 5,000 are lazing in the sun that must be demolished because the truth is these lawyers are at breaking point,” he said.


Thomas also questioned whether there was indeed a backlog of cases, pointing out that he had never faced problems in getting hearing dates.


The senior lawyer suggested that the authorities set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry if there was really any radical problem affecting the courts system and the administration of justice.


“The law is evolutionary never revolutionary. Changes come slowly but the KPI is revolutionary,” he said.


This is what the Chief Juge Tun Zaki Azmi had to say in reply:


CJ: Clearing of case backlog to go on despite lawyers' protest
The Star
19 March 2011


PUTRAJAYA: The judiciary will continue to step up its efforts in clearing the backlog of cases despite protests by the Bar Council.


Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi said it had been successful in clearing the backlog of cases, bringing down the disposal of civil suits to just nine months.


“This is a target which we have been able to achieve.


“However the administration of justice is a continuously evolving process which needs constant nurturing,” he told 77 Malaysian and 12 Singaporean judges while opening the inaugural joint Malaysia-Singapore Judicial Conference with his counterpart Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong on Saturday.


Zaki made the comment in his speech after the Bar Council passed a near-unanimous no-confidence motion at its 65th annual general meeting against his introduction of key performance indicators (KPI) to quickly clear court cases.


It had been reported that the new Bar president Lim Chee Wee would be meeting Zaki soon on behalf of the Bar to demand that the KPI measures be removed.


The Bar Council had said that the did not agree with the KPI because it did not serve justice to hurry court trials.


One lawyer close to the council have described some judges as having “injudiciously expedited cases at their discretion”.


Zaki admitted that he had been “besieged with complaints of justice hurried being equivalent to justice buried.”


“But inefficiency in the administration of justice and delay in the expeditious disposal of cases cannot be condoned,” he said.


He alluded to Singapore’s experience when it encountered “a large and embarrassing backlog” in the 1990’s before reducing the time taken for disposal of a civil suit from five years in 1991 to two years in 1999.


Later, Zaki refused to answer reporters’ requests for comments in response to the Bar Council’s vote of no-confidence.


He only said that Lim would be issuing a press statement on the matter later.


I think the CJ more or less tells the Bar Council to fly kite and move on.


I can't hardly blame the Tun, I have been involved in some civil suits against my company, but I dare say that the Court is most efficient now to dispose of cases, what would take 5 years to settle also take less than two years.


So for the moment I'd go for the CJ's way, too much time taken in court only bogs us down to do more beneficial and profitable activity for the company.


I note the Bar Council now seems more prone to go for street protest, they had a big one in 2007 and mulling another one to protest against the CJ's Court KPI. Street protests should be limited to political parties or NGOslah. Bar Council should set a good example for Malaysians, if they observe good behaviour in court then they should also show decorum outside the courts. They are officers of the Courts aren't they.


Minister Nazri Aziz put it more succinctly: 


Government will ignore lawyers’ protest, says Nazri "they are free to protest and we are free to ignore them"

1 comment:

Julia said...

Hi

Tks very much for post:

I like it and hope that you continue posting.

Let me show other source that may be good for community.

Source: Hospital KPI

Best rgs
David