Africa-Press – Lesotho. Some of the Judges of the High Court have come under fire for not providing reasons in their judgements. Taking aim at this practice, the President of the Court of Appeal Justice Kananelo Mosito
expressed the displeasure on account of this conduct urging the Chief Justice to “crack the whip” during the opening of the apex court on Monday this week.
The legal year for the apex court is in April every year. This is an adopted practice from England, although the latter’s legal year commences in October.
This court has two sessions which are in April and October. The court will hear 33 cases from April 12th to April 21st, while April 22nd to May 13rd will be reserved for writing
the judgments and the judgments are scheduled to be delivered on May 14th. The President said the obligation to give reasons in the judgements goes back from 1997.
“Judges must account for their decisions,” said Judge Mosito. He said without advancing the reasons, it is “impossible” to tell how they have arrived at their ruling. Justice Mosito further
added that the obligation to give reasons makes it clear on the basis of their decisions, saying that furnishing the judgements with the reasons is in
conformity with the law. He also revealed that majority of the judgement lack reasons. Judge Mosito charged that the apex court will adopt the tougher stance against this practice if this persists, adding that
the court will decline to hear the cases or postpone them or stand them down to demand reasons for the judgements. He emphasised that lack of provision of the reasons make the Court of Appeal as though it is the
first court. “This is not what the Court of Appeal was established for. ” The President stated that in the absence of the decisions, it becomes difficult to challenge such an
outcome. He also warned that failure to provide reasons could lead to “quashing of the decisions” adding that the reasons bring the “transparency” on the
judgements. “Securing fairness is crucial to the attainment of justice,” he emphasised. He added: “We appeal to Chief Justice to preside over the judges,” Justice Mosito charged.
The President also mentioned that the court had been in consultation with the relevant stakeholders on the work of the court. Notably, he said prior to the previous norm that the court would take a week to pen about 40
judgements, from now they are going to take three weeks for this exercise. He said due to high volume of the work of the court, it should guard against the decline of “quality
assurance”. Justice Mosito remarked that: “We certainly need quality assurance mechanisms”. The President however warned that the stakeholders opined that the court should await the
implementation of the ongoing multi-sector reforms. The seven thematic areas which are under the reform following the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) 2016 report will cover the Judiciary as one of the components to be
reformed. He said judges in the discharge of their duties are met with criticism adding that sometimes they come under “intense scrutiny”. Justice Mosito said
when executing their roles, the Judges must not be under any influence both nationally and internationally. He said the Judges who hear political cases are
subjected to “intense criticism” over the media platforms. The President warned that “improper “exertion must not be exerted to the judges. Taking stock of the
Covid-19, he said that 2020 and 2021 have been “extra-ordinary” years for Lesotho and the rest of the world owing to the deadly virus which had been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) while the government
had declared it an emergency. He said the Judiciary and its officers have not been spared by this deadly virus further paying homage to the departed Judge of the Commercial Division of the High Court Judge
Lisebo Chaka Makhoane whom in July last year succumbed to the Covid-19. The Appeal Court President also thanked the retired judges of the High Court Justices Teboho
Moiloa and Semapo Peete for their contribution to the bench. He said they have contributed the diversity and strengthened the courts. “We are deeply grateful
for their contribution and wish them the best in their retirement. ” Similarly, Justice Mosito congratulated Justice Sakoane Sakoane for the ascendency of the High
Court bench following his appointment as the Chief Justice (CJ) replacing the then Acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase who has been holding the fort since
2018. He said CJ Sakoane brings wealth of experience to the bench. Judge Mosito went on to appeal that “the new (CJ) broom must sweep clean”. The Appeal Court has only one local Judge, who
is also its president, Justice Mosito while the rest are from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. In 2020 owing to the outbreak of the Coronavirus and the
restricted travelling which had been imposed by many countries to curb the spread of the deadly virus, the judges of this court heard the cases remotely
from their countries. Also this year, the Judges will be hearing the cases remotely. These are: Justice Petrus Damaseb from Namibia, Justice Moses Hungwe Chinhengo from Zimbabwe, Justice Philip Musonda and Justice November Tafima Mtshiya from Zambia and Justice Van der Westheisn from South Africa.