Alagi Yorro Jallow

(JollofNews) – The Gambia’s judicial system aspiration to be a democratic and just society of laws is floundering and is close to capsizing. Judicial quality and capacity needs a huge expansion in new Gambia.

Our judiciary needs more trained magistrates and impeccable judges, with less freelance lawyers and an efficient judicial infrastructure countrywide.

Speedy justice should be the order of the day and adjournments should be few in our justice system. There is a terrible discrepancy between the population and the number of judges and magistrates required to cater to the population a speedy justice, and avoid delayed justice, the government should raise the number of magistrates and judges in our courts.

The average time our courts expends on a case takes time. Imagine something that makes its way up for decades gets decided without much application of judicial mind due to paucity of time.

The Gambia not only need more judges and magistrates but also need a layer of appeals and higher courts to shield the lower courts from being flooded with litigation especially since the purpose of civil litigation is usually to deny discharge of obligations and contracts.

New Gambia also need more criminal courts to try government corruption expeditious and make government less burdensome on people. The government could also do well with tax courts focused on revenue and taxation issues.

Clearly, the Gambia will do well with a lot more magistrates and judges and hopefully with little less litigation and lawyers.

Banjul High Court

While passing the bar exam may be a source of joy to the successful examinees, the entry of hundreds of new lawyers into the workforce each year raises some concerns.

In a country beset with numerous economic and social problems, is there a need to produce that big number of lawyers every year? With more lawyers looking for ways to earn a living, are we not fostering the growth of a litigious society?

In his book “The Price of Inequality,” Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize winner in economics, said some studies “… showed that countries with fewer lawyers (relative to their population) grew faster. Other research suggests that the main channel through which a high proportion of lawyers in a society hurts the economy is the diversion of talent away from more innovative activities (like engineering and science).” This observation applies foursquare to the Gambia.