Handbook of Best Practice for Registrars of Final/Appellate, Regional and International Courts and Tribunals

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Author(s):
Commonwealth Secretariat
10 May 2012
Pages:
32
ISBN:
9781848591103 (PDF)
http://dx.doi.org/10.14217/9781848591103-en

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This user-friendly, practical handbook is designed to assist Registrars in the day-to-day performance of their duties, thereby contributing to improving the administration and efficiency of final/appellate, regional and international courts and tribunals.

The handbook is divided into four sections: institutional matters; information and document management; the needs of court and tribunal users; and eradicating inefficiencies and abuses of process. It provides examples of good practice to help Registrars benefit from the challenges faced by other courts and tribunals, throughout the Commonwealth and worldwide.
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  • Foreword

    This manual has arisen as part of a mandate set by the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting (CLMM) in Edinburgh in 2008, and by the meeting of Law Ministers of Small Commonwealth Jurisdictions (LMSCJ), which took place in London in 2007. The mandate resulted in the Commonwealth Secretariat looking for new ways to further its overall objective to improve the non-judicial aspects of court administration, case flow management and court room administration in final/appellate, regional and international courts and tribunals (hereafter referred to as the ‘courts and tribunals’). Meanwhile, a key recommendation made in 2007/08 by the Commonwealth Meeting of Justices and Registrars of Final/Appellate Courts and Regional Courts in Port of Spain, Trinidad, highlighted the importance of convening a meeting: ‘To discuss issues and exchange information about best practice in registries’. As a direct consequence, the Secretariat decided that the best way to proceed was to invite a broad cross-section of registrars and administrators to prepare detailed written papers which could then form the basis for a conference and workshop session. The outcomes of the conference would in turn be synthesised and compiled to form a userfriendly, practical manual: the Handbook of Best Practice for Registrars of Final/Regional Appellate Courts and International Tribunals (hereafter the Handbook).

  • Introduction
  • Institutional Matters

    As a starting point, it is clear that a body administering a court or tribunal should have a mission statement and/or strategic plan. It is also clear that a body administering a court or tribunal should be established according to rules set out in a statute or treaty. The statute or treaty should provide for: the jurisdiction and status of the institution; the hierarchy and employment status of its administrative officers and employees; as well as fundamental matters of governance, including the organisation of the body’s financing.

  • Information and Document Management

    Information and document management can be extremely expensive and, as such, it is essential to undertake a robust review of any existing manual systems before embarking upon the purchase and installation of a technology-based system. The road to an effective IT-based system has often been littered with expensive wrecks: either the base manual system has been imperfect and not conducive to being mechanised and/or a court administrator has gone ahead with an inappropriate system after having been ‘promised the world’ by an IT company’s slick sales pitch.

  • The Needs of Court and Tribunal Users

    There are many similarities between the needs of court and tribunal users but some aspects of international tribunals and courts deserve particular attention. A court or tribunal created within a state will take its character and some of its strength for enforcement from the existing organs and measures within that state. For its part, an international court or tribunal which exercises a coercive jurisdiction has to take a more comprehensive view of the several elements that are necessary to achieve a fair trial.

  • Eradicating Inefficiencies and Abuses of Process

    Without question, it was this part of the Ottawa meeting and its working sessions – concerning the eradication of inefficiencies and abuses of process – which gave rise to the most concern. The value of these deliberations is that the failings have been clearly identified. The measures for reform do not lie with the individuals within a court or tribunal or any particular system within a registry, but rather with the member states of the various regional organisations. Considerable resources are being spent in connection with the resolution of disputes in this area. However, unless these concerns are addressed, the results may at best create a limited benefit for participants and no clear advantage to the community at large.

  • The Way Forward

    To borrow a well-worn phrase, this Handbook should be seen as a work in progress and as a springboard to future publications which could provide more detailed guidance on the wide variety of topics which come into play in ‘a day in the life of a registrar’.

  • Notes and references
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