By Dharmita Ramluckun,
The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD) embarked on a journey to modernise its information technology (IT) systems and in particular, the Civil Case Management System and process. National roll-out commenced in August 2016 and will be completed in May. The drive at the DoJ&CD is focussed at digitisation, improved service delivery to all stakeholders and ultimately access to justice for all.
The DoJ&CD is cognisant of the challenges experienced by members of the legal profession, as well as the ever-increasing civil litigation, which in itself strains the resources available. In order to evaluate the functionality and usability of the envisaged portal, as well as meet practitioners’ needs. The first phase of the web portal will be piloted in two courts in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces.
A handful of attorneys will be approached to be a part of the pilot in each of the provinces mentioned above. This will be done in consultation with the court officials based on the volumes received from the firms. The department wishes to test the following functions –
Once the department is satisfied, the DoJ&CD envisages that the web portal will be enabled for the rest of the provinces and attorneys will be able to log in and use the portal.
The web portal does not require a registration fee. It is provided free-of-charge by the DoJ&CD as a value-added service to the legal profession and is funded from its budget. It is not mandatory to use the portal, however, the DoJ&CD would welcome increased use of the portal to retrieve orders instead of physical attendance at court to uplift the same.
The DoJ&CD has undertaken to confirm the details of all firms and attorneys with the respective provincial law societies, as well as preserve confidentiality not only of the attorney and firm details, but will also ensure that the access to the cases before court is limited to the specific attorney registered as the attorney on record.
In addition to the functionality mentioned previously, the DoJ&CD intends to complete the following development as the next system enhancement –
The department has consulted with the Law Society of South Africa, as well as representatives of the provincial law societies where the web portal and the modernised Civil Case Management System were unveiled. A Memorandum of Understanding will be concluded in due course to cement this relationship.
Dharmita Ramluckun, Senior Business Analyst, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
This article was first published in De Rebus in 2017 (April) DR 8.