Govt. presents COVID Bill to provide relief from contractual obligations, remote court hearings

Wednesday, 9 June 2021 00:18 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Justice Minster presents Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID -19) (Temporary Provisions) Bill
  • New legislation to provide relief for those unable to perform contractual obligations or exercise contractual rights due to the pandemic
  • Bill empowers JSC to designate alternative courts in place for those affected by COVID-19
  • Provides for conduct of court proceedings using remote communication technology

By Chandani Kirinde

Justice Minister Ali Sabry yesterday presented the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID -19) (Temporary Provisions) Bill to Parliament which makes provision to provide relief to those affected by disruption caused by the pandemic, such as an inability to perform contractual obligations or exercise contractual rights. The Bill also seeks to allow the conduct of court proceedings using remote communication technology. Under the provisions of the Bill, which will be valid for a period of two years, the relief will cover those who have obtained loans from licensed banks or finance companies, where such facility is secured, wholly or partially, against any commercial or industrial immovable property or against any plant, machinery, or fixed asset used for manufacturing, production, or other business purposes.

The relief will also apply to those who are in hire-purchase or lease agreements to hire plant, machinery, fixed assets or commercial vehicles.

The new law will also apply to agreements between housing developers and a purchaser for the sale, as well as for the purchase of one or more units of housing.

The Bill, once passed by Parliament, will enable the Judicial Service Commission to designate the nearest court of concurrent jurisdiction as an alternative court for the period during which such COVID-19 situation exists.

If any person is unable to appear in court, or the proceedings of the court cannot be conducted under the ordinary procedure due to COVID-19, such action, application, appeal or proceeding before such court may be conducted by means of a live video or live television link created using remote communication technology, with such conditions as prescribed by regulations made by the Justice Minister, in concurrence with the Chief Justice.