August 01, 2013

Case Management System to Improve Efficiency in Philippine Trial Courts

August 2013

The Philippine Supreme Court launched an automated case management information system—the eCourt—for the country’s trial courts during a June 14 event held at the Quezon City Hall of Justice. Supported by the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) and previously introduced in specialty courts, including appeals courts, the system is being piloted in Quezon City’s regional and metropolitan trial courts, whose caseloads are among the highest in the country.

Attendees included Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno, Associate Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro and Associate Justice Mario Victor F. Leonen, all with the Philippine Supreme Court, Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez and Executive Judge Fernando T. Sagun, Jr., with the Quezon City Regional Trial Courts, and judges and court personnel from Quezon City courts.

The eCourt system is part of the Philippine Supreme Court’s initiative to increase court efficiency and transparency by reducing court staff’s administrative workload and providing lawyers and litigants easy access to case information. Chief Justice Sereno said that the eCourt would speed up court processes, eliminate possible sources of corruption and ensure greater transparency. It will remove doubt that “money is leaking in the court system,” she added, as the system will automatically assign cases and determine fees, replacing the time-consuming manual process. The chief justice also demonstrated how the system—which she said would “put the seal of transparency and good governance on the courts”—works.

As soon as a case is filed, lawyers and litigants know which court and judge their case has been assigned to. The system also generates barcodes that allow tracking of case files and progress. It is constantly updated with information on motions, hearings and decisions, providing court administrators and supervising judges with real-time information on the performance of individual courts. Additionally, the public can access case information at one of the kiosks in the courts’ lobbies.

Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, ABA ROLI has worked in partnership with the Supreme Court since 2011 to develop the eCourt software. ABA ROLI also provided 58 computers. As they input pending cases into the system, court personnel identified numerous enhancements, which ABA ROLI helped to develop and implement. Following the pilot phase, the eCourt system will be rolled out to select trial courts nationwide.

To learn more about our work in the Philippines, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.