Supreme Court deals with surge in cases

Peter Shivute

The Supreme Court experienced a surge in the number of appeals it had to deal with during 2023, chief justice Peter Shivute says.

The number of appeals filed at the Supreme Court increased by nearly 60% last year, compared to 2022, Shivute said at the official opening of the new legal year in Windhoek on Wednesday.

According to statistics released by the Office of the Judiciary, 181 new matters were registered at the Supreme Court last year – an increase of about 59% from the 114 cases registered at the court in 2022.

The court “successfully managed to uphold its high standard in the disposal rate of cases”, Shivute said, noting that out of 98 matters enrolled for a hearing during 2023, 93 were heard and judgements were delivered in 87 cases, translating into a case disposal rate of 93%.

During 2022, 49 matters were heard in the Supreme Court and 47 judgements delivered, statistics released by the chief justice also show.

Still on the business of the appeals court, Shivute said “a concerning pattern” of some litigants and legal practitioners exhibiting a recurring disregard of the court’s rules has taken root.

This, he said, has frequently resulted in the dismissal or removal of cases from the court’s roll.

“It is crucial that both litigants and especially legal practitioners make a concerted effort to familiarise themselves thoroughly with the court’s rules to uphold the efficiency and integrity of our judicial process,” Shivute stated.

Turning to the High Court, Shivute said that court’s main division in Windhoek finalised 6 827 civil and labour cases during 2023, and that 5 355 (78%) of those matters were disposed of within prescribed time limits.

That is an improvement on the on-time disposal rate of 73% recorded for the 7 018 civil and labour cases handled in the Windhoek High Court during 2022, and the on-time disposal rate of 71% for 9 828 cases handled during 2021.

Shivute commented that the judicial case management system “remains a cornerstone in this success, ensuring efficient case handling and timely resolution of disputes”.

The High Court’s mediation process saw 611 matters finalised last year, with successful mediations achieved in 316 of those cases, the judiciary’s statistics indicate as well.

During 2022, 677 mediations were finalised in the High Court, with 332 of those successful.

With regard to criminal cases, the High Court’s performance was less impressive during 2023.

The court’s main division finalised 19 criminal trials during 2023, while 13 new criminal cases were registered for trial at the main division during that time and 54 criminal cases were brought over from the previous year.

During 2022, the court’s divisions in Windhoek and at Oshakati finalised 32 criminal trials, while 49 new criminal cases were registered in the two divisions and 88 criminal cases were brought over from the previous year.

In the country’s regional and district courts, 68 782 cases were handled during 2023, according to the Office of the Judiciary’s statistics. Of those matters, 26 017 were finalised, which is a finalisation rate of 37%.

In the country’s regional courts, however, only 565 (16%) of 3 467 cases that were dealt with were finalised during 2023.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!