55 magistrates trained for new Commercial Courts

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By Alois Vinga

ATLEAST 55 local magistrates have gone through training in order to prepare them for the newly established Commercial Courts whose mandate is to expeditiously resolve commercial disputes and make Zimbabwe a safe investment destination.

However, legal experts say the task is bigger than that as more specialised judicial officers would be needed to man the courts.

Speaking to guests at a World Bank meeting recently, Master of the High Court, Eldard Mutasa has said processes were now at an advanced stage as all the necessary preparatory work has already been completed.

“We have established Commercial Courts at Magistrates level and so far systems have been put in place for the set up in Harare and Bulawayo. The idea is to go national so already we have established four courts and we are still working on setting up of similar courts in other provinces,” he said.

Mutasa said the project had reached 50 percent in terms of promulgation of the court rules draft which was to the Chief Justice early April in order for the validation process to be done.

“In terms of training of Commercial Court Magistrates, I am happy to inform that 55 magistrates have been trained while 37 clerks of the court have also received training so far,” he said.

To support the Commercial Courts, he said that small claims courts in the country were increased from two to ten in a development that will enable swift adjudication of cases and reduce times taken in trial.

These specialised courts have the mandate to expeditiously resolve commercial disputes and the training has gone a long way in imparting relevant skills to the officers who will be manning the courts.

Currently, the country has a huge backlog of commercial disputes still to be resolved once the courts are in place.

However, top Harare lawyer Muchadeyi Masunda has expressed doubt over the availability of expertise locally for such specialised courts.

“Most of the judges in the country have not really gone through the mill in legal practice hence the delivery of judgments is taking much longer due to lack of commercial experience,” he said.

He urged the country to consider enlisting the services of retired judges with commercial law experience from other jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom and Australia.

This, he said, would go a long way in improving the dispute handling mechanism.