Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Rwanda Court Pre-Filing E-Filing System

Chief Justice of Rwanda, Prof. Sam Rugege

Earlier this year I visited the courts in Kigali, Rwanda.  They showed me their E-filing system that I didn’t really understand until now.


Chief Justice of Rwanda, Prof. Sam Rugege has made anti-corruption one of the focus of his administration in the courts.  Earlier this year, during his press conference for this year’s Anti-Corruption Week, he announced the termination of ten judges and court clerks.  This focus on anti-corruption measures has resulted in Rwanda being “ranked among countries with the least corrupt justice system by Transparency International and the Global Competitiveness report of 2012/2013”.

Their automation systems also take on corruption with an approach that others might study. One of the problems with manipulation of court filings is for registry staff to hold documents until a bribe payment is made.  The Rwanda courts have overcome this with their E-filing system.  I would call it a “Pre-Filing” system that allows the filer to register their case online via an Internet form.  In turn the system generates the fee bill, with tracking number, for the filer to take to the bank where filing fee payment is made.  The case is therefore registered in their case management tracking system, the payment is registered in the bank, and therefore all that is needed is for the paper documents to be delivered to the court.

This is a brilliant approach for courts that have not been able to implement pure electronic e-filing due to statutory restrictions. Thus, filer has been able pre-file the case in the registry system and therefore the next steps in the case process can be monitored with daily and weekly reports on the outstanding pre-filings.  And, judicial auditors can easily check (telephone or e-mail) the pre-filers to see if what issues may have caused the filer not to pursue the matter further if cases stay on the list for a period of time.

Congratulations to the Rwanda Judiciary for this innovative idea.

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