Judiciary mulls paperless library

HARARE - Zimbabwean courts are set to adopt the electronic library system, which will help improve the justice delivery system, Judicial Services Commission (JSC) secretary Rita Makarau said yesterday.

Speaking at a handover ceremony of 1 700 books worth R2 million donated by the Danish embassy, Makarau said to complement the hard copies, the country’s judicial system was in the process of setting up electronic libraries.

“We are also aware that other courts have moved to paperless libraries. To this end, we have also subscribed to two online or e-libraries offering legal texts and law reports from South Africa and other jurisdictions,” Makarau said.

She said arrangements were at an advanced stage to have all end-users trained on how to access and navigate their way around the virtual libraries.

Makarau told the gathering, which included judges, lawyers and magistrates, that the donation would help improve the justice delivery system in the country.

“Less humorous was the anecdote from one High Court judge who reported that after hearing argument from an advocate who had referred to a text which was not available from the judges’ library, he found it very demeaning having to direct his clerk to request for a copy of the text from the advocate to enable him to prepare his judgment,” she said.

Erik Rasmussen, the Danish ambassador to Zimbabwe, who handed over the books, said the material will soon be complemented by additional 400 electronic books.

“Both the paper and the electronic books will assist in developing the skills of judges, magistrates and administrative personnel. They will provide better decision-making and judgments in Zimbabwe,” Rasmussen.

He said the books were “seeds” that will over time help to develop the country’s jurisprudence and establish a sound legal precedent.

Law Society of Zimbabwe president Lloyd Mhishi welcomed the donation, saying this would enhance the quality of work in the justice system.

“Often enough, at certain levels, some practitioners have gotten away with citing non-existent authorities,” he said.

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