Improving judicial efficiency through court automation
Philippine courts are burdened with lengthy backlogs, making use of the justice system ineffective and unappealing for citizens. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Philippines government have identified docket congestion and delay as the most significant barriers to the timely delivery of justice. To address the core causes of congestion and delay, ABA ROLI is working with local partners and judicial actors to reform inefficient business processes and court rules. We also provide much-needed resources to ill-equipped courts and under-trained clerical and judicial staff. ABA ROLI’s program builds upon the success of its past USAID-sponsored judicial reform programs, which date back to 2003, and targets areas directly related to economic and commercial disputes.
Since 2008, ABA ROLI’s technology-driven, results-oriented approach has led to the creation of an automated case management information system (CMIS) at the Court of Appeals (CA) and the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA). Following the success of the CMIS system, ABA ROLI automated the Quezon City trial courts, which are among the busiest court systems in the country, as a pilot effort for a national court-automation program that would replace time-consuming manual record-keeping and case management practices.
Additionally, ABA ROLI is working to develop and install an automated case management system, the e-Court, in selected courts in major economic areas of the Philippines. ABA ROLI will also enhance automation at the Court of Appeals, the Court of Tax Appeals and the Sandiganbayan (the anti-corruption court) through additional features designed to improve case management, increase efficiency and reduce court delay. To support these systems and ensure sustainability, the JUSTICE program will build the capacity of the Court Management Office and judicial supervisors to utilize the national e-Court program.
Further, ABA ROLI—building on its successful previous initiative to establish small claims courts—is helping the Philippine judiciary explore and implement reforms to rules of procedure to increase courts’ efficiency and accessibility. Under the JUSTICE program, ABA ROLI will conduct an information campaign to highlight the availability of small claims courts and will help the judiciary determine whether to expand these courts’ jurisdiction. ABA ROLI is also assessing Quezon City’s pilot speedy-litigation rules for possible amendments and nationwide implementation. Additionally, ABA ROLI is partnering with The Asia Foundation on a one-time docket decongestion effort in select courts with exceptionally high caseloads.