Background

Court business processes in Africa, like any developed or undeveloped world, are impacted by the environments in which they operate which require constant alignment with the needs of the court users. To this extent the court leadership and management of courts require appropriate skills, experience to improve the management of the courthouses. In most African countries courts are characterized by a variety of inefficiencies which include and not limited to inadequate court hours ’usage, loss of case dockets, delays in the finalization of cases, case backlogs, corruption and lack of access by the indigent people. As a result, most ordinary people easily lose confidence and trust in the court’s system because of these inhibiting factors. Although South Africa and other African countries have made strides in addressing court management issues through various initiatives, challenges remain though. According to “A Practical Guide – Court and Case Flow Management In The South African Lower Court Divisions although the general principles of case-flow management (CFM) are fairly well documented and established – structures throughout South Africa to maintain consistent, effective management of courts and case flow management are mostly varied, fragmented and not properly coordinated in ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of the court’s system. According to anecdotal reports, the situation is much worse in many African countries.

This proposal therefore, seeks to:

  • Establish and operate an office;
  • Undertake a desk review of the state of court management in the African continent;
  • Assist countries to form local structures that will focus on improvement of court management issues;
  • Bring court management structures in Africa under umbrella of the Pan African Court Management Association;
  • Professionalize court management and administration in the African continent; and
  • Participate in the in the establishment of an institution that will provide continuing education, training and development of court managers.
  1. Organizational Background
  2. (a)Mission and Objectives

Pan African Court Management Association is a non-profit organisation that supports the administration of justice by creating a platform for court managers and administrators on the African continent to continuously learn and share best practices and experiences on court management in order strengthen the functionality and governanceof the courts’ systems in Africa.

The founding members of the Pan African Court Management Association are Adv S Jiyane, Mr V Misser, Ms D Ollermann, Ms C A Smit, Messrs V Pather and M A Motaung. The Pan Africa Court Management Association was established and registered in South Africa on 17th December 2013 under registration number 2013\233266\08 issued in terms of section 14 of the Companies Act, 2008 and Regulation 14 of the Companies Regulations, 2011 of the Republic of South Africa.

Our Mission is to seek home grown solutions on professional court management and promote sharing of learning, training, knowledge and experiences on the African Continent in order to strengthen justice and governance systems of the courts in Africa. We will do these through the creation of the necessary platforms to enable innovations on court management as a science and instilling professionalism in all administrative pillars to support the business of the courts.

Our Objectives are to:

  • serve as the Association that will promote the professional management or administration interests of courts in the African Continent.
  • promote and foster professional ethos of all courts support personnel with the view to improve the delivery of services in the courts.
  • create a common development platform in which all courts in Africa can share best practices, lessons on Court Management reforms and other related services.
  • become a Court Management Centre of Excellence from which all courts’ support personnel can draw from as a resource for different skills, knowledge and experiences required in the management of courts.
  • serve as a research and development institution with the view to enhance the skills of court support personnel through education and continuous learning.
  • promote the training and development of courts support personnel.
  1. (b)Organizational Structure
  2. The Problem Statement

Membership of the Association shall be open to all Court Managers/ Administrators, Registrars and Language Practitioners in Africa. The founding members of the Association are the following:

Adv Simon Jiyane, who is the former Deputy Director General in the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and has almost twenty six years experience in judicial and administrative court reforms in South Africa. He has been instrumental in leading and championing various change initiatives within the justice sector, and specifically within the courts, namely the introduction of court management and case-flow management systems in South Africa. His extensive knowledge and experience in the management of courts will add enormous value to the work of Pan African Court Management Association. He once served as the Vice President UN Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime during 2006. Adv Jiyane holds a Bjuris, LLB, LLM Degrees (on Human Rights and Constitutional Litigation) and a Post Graduate Diploma on Public Policy and Development Management from the Universities of Zululand, Natal, Johannesburg and Witwatersrand respectively. In his professional career, he had attended many training courses on Ethics for Effective Judicial Reforms, Improving Case-flow Management Systems and Advanced Court Management Research Methods from Singapore and the National Centre for State Courts Institute for Court Management in the USA respectively during 2001\02.

Mr Vickash Misser, is presently the Principal Director and a Court Manager of the largest court in South Africa, the Johannesburg Magistrates Court. Prior to this he held the position of Director : Court Management at the esteemed Constitutional Court of South Africa, a body responsible for upholding the post democratic Constitution of 1996. He is a highly experienced, competent administrative leader, manager, with unique skills in teaching, planning, designing and implementing systems around court management. His expertise are much sought after and it was for this reason that he was asked to serve in his current position to bring about, amongst others, an ambitious transformation programme that seeks to advance court access and efficiency, and make the institution more accessible to the public. His span of responsibility, over 900 staff members, attests to his grasp of management issues and his ability to lead large and complex organizations. Vickash holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) as well as a host of professional certificates in finance and administration of the courts.

Mr Vivendran Pather is the Chief Registrar of the South Gauteng High Court, the busiest court in South Africa. He heads a Case flow Management within the High Court, which had been able to reduce the civil trial roll’s waiting period significantly since its establishment. He has been responsible for the revision of the High Court Rules, Procedures and Practice to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the court processes. He serves as the head of the civil and criminal appeals in the South Gauteng High Court. He serves as liaison between the High Court and the legal profession and other stakeholders. Vivendran holds a B.Proc Degree from the University of Durban Westville is an Attorney by profession.

Mr Mangope Andries Motaung is a highly experienced and competent administrative leader and manager, with unique skills in teaching, planning, designing and implementing new management systems in relation to Court Language Practitioners. He has an exemplary employment history and has moved up from a relatively junior position within the judiciary over twenty years to his current position as the Assistant Director:Cluster Manager of Court Language Services in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court. Mangope holds a Diploma in Legal Interpretation from the University of North West and a number of professional certificates in administration and leadership.

Ms Delene Oellermann, has retired from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development after thirty two years dedicated service. She started her career in the Department in December 1979 as a temporary clerk in the Criminal Section of the Magistrates Court and appointed permanently during September 1980 in Hanover Magistrates Court. During April 1981 she was appointed as an Assistance and Control Magistrate in New Hanover Magistrates Court. She was transferred to Pietermaritzburg Magistrates Court as Assistant Director where she became the Head of Criminal, Civil and Family Court Sections in KwaZulu Natal during 1990. During 1998 she was appointed as a Control Officer and Cluster Head for the Stanger Magistrates Court. In 2006 she was appointed as a Deputy Director and Area Court Manager for the Empangeni Magistrates Court. In 2008 she was rewarded with three achievements performance awards by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. She studied law with the University of South Africa (UNISA).

The above mentioned individuals form the Interim Board of the Pan African Court Management Association. Members of the Association shall pay annual fees as determined by the Board.

The management and control of the affairs of the Association shall vest in and be exercised by a Board in pursuance of the objectives of the Association. The Management Committee or any other person appointed by the Board will manage and run the day to day affairs of the Association.

“More however must be done to train, educate and develop all role players as well.

Understandable courts, skilful community outreach and informed public information improve court performance and enhance public trust and confidence in the justice system.” Although court and case flow management is led by the judiciary, it is indeed a shared responsibility.” T C Mabaso, Chairperson, Lower Court Management Sub-Committee on Court and Case Flow Management in South Africa often acknowledged.

The foregoing quotation is profound. Although the justice system in South Africa recognizes the important role played by court managers and other role players, they still need to be recognized professionally and their status within the court operational framework. “It is anticipated that judges and court administrators prefer a communal culture in the work area courthouse leadership. This area sets the tone for how the business of the court is to be done. It is neither exclusively nor primarily case-or people-oriented. It is a hybrid governing the mechanics of how the court is to operate and the manner in which court personnel are to treat one another”[1]. It is not enough to recognize existence of such collegial relationship of the judiciary and court management but fail elevate the professional role of the court support personnel. There is still, in some jurisdictions in Africa, a great resistance from some judicial officers to recognize the important role that the court support personnel plays in the performance of the court’s business. The important role of court management\administration was also echoed by Sandra Day O’Connor Associate Justice United States Supreme Court, when she said “We need to promote the concept of management in the courts as a noble calling. Both the art and the science of management are essential ingredients in ensuring the administration of justice.”

The lack of appropriate management\administrative skills, experience and the understanding of the core business of the courts by Court Managers, which often leads to poor performance of courts, had been raised by the Judicial Leadership. It is in this context that the professionalization of court management had been identified as a solution to the current administrative shortcomings in the management of the courts through the establishment of the Pan African Court Management Association, which seeks to professionalize all administrative pillars of support to courts.