An introduction to the Zimbabwean Integrated Electronic Case Management System [IECMS]
(LLM IP, B. A Law)
Wilmot and Bennett Legal Practitioners
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has Introduced an integrated electronic platform to connect all institutions in the justice delivery system, a development that will render all courts paperless and fully automated. The Integrated Electronic Case management system (IECMS) is a web system that automates and tracks all aspects of a case life cycle. It is made to capture the cases’ initial filing through deposition and appeal.
The development is part of the digital revolution in the judiciary, police services, prisons, and correctional services, which will see the required information, documents, and dockets moving through the judicial system without delays and other systems to improve law enforcement.
The Integrated Electronic Case Management System forms part of the efforts to attain the digital economy as enunciated in the National Development Strategy 1: 2021-2025, and also to mitigate challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. This development rode on the Covid-19 regulations such as social distancing to transform the need for ICT usage knowledge from being an option into a fundamental necessity.
The judiciary has posed with the need to grapple with ICT and the knowledge of how to use such technology is now more important than ever to the judiciary as they strive to deliver service to the communities they serve. In the same vain, the country has since been conducting workshops that incorporate e-skills training, which is the country’s action plan to prepare its nationals for a knowledge-based society in this digital economy drive.
This platform is a unifying platform that will connect all institutions belonging to the justice Delivery sector. This is a highly transformational move as all courts will be paperless and fully automated. It is integrating the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, Administrative Court, Magistrate’s Court, and Sheriff of the High Court under the same system.
The establishment and incorporation of this kind of system has involved select stakeholders, including systems from all institutions of the justice sector in Zimbabwe, that is; the judicial officers, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service, Law Society of Zimbabwe, Attorney General, National Prosecuting Authority, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary affairs through Legal Aid Directorate and Members of the Public.
Moreover, the implementation of the IECMS brings with it efficiency, expedited case disposition, and delivery of access to justice. In the sense that, the system endeavors to prevent the loss and physical damage of documents in a case file and reduce case backlog. The advantages that come with this system include a reduction in paperwork as a result of record keeping.
It incorporates centralized data management which allows and establishes remote access. This will hereby instill efficient resolution of cases through effective collaboration. Added advantages will include, increased transparency, clear audit trails, and improved and personalized customer care.
Without a doubt, this is the biggest project to be implemented by the Judicial Service Commission. Its implementation will be conducted in a two-phased approach fulfilling its aim to be far-reaching and operational in all courts and offices within 36 months to 60 months.
The first phase of the IECMS implementation plan is currently covering the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, and the Commercial Division of the High Court. The second phase will cover the High Court, Labour Court, Administrative Court, Magistrates’ Court, and Sheriff of the High Court of Zimbabwe.
The simplicity and efficiency of this system will only require a smart gadget (computer, laptop, smartphone), internet connectivity, a valid email address, an electronic signature pad, and lodging of your legal documents from the office or home.
In order for one to register they need to connect to the internet, open the browser, type in the web address, click register, fill in the required information, click create an account, sign in into the email, and log in into the IECMS
The IECMS has far-reaching benefits to litigants as it will enable easy access to information by members of the public. The fact that the system can be accessed on any smart gadget anywhere in Zimbabwe will enable follow-ups of cases, their current, and next online status and keeping up with court schedules on the system calendar; and availability of judgment copies online.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is currently familiarizing its IECMS to members of the public and other stakeholders through conducting online training and open days at magistrates’ courts countrywide. Hopefully, the IECMS will be fully operational in all courts and JSC offices within 36 to 60 months. I will be publishing a follow-up review on the IECMS assessing the stakeholder reception and efficiency in general.