Virtual meeting of the SIFoCC Judicial Observation Programme

Judges from eight different countries, across six different time zones met on Microsoft Teams last week for a live event on the SIFoCC Judicial Observation Programme to share experiences and discuss work streams including the SIFoCC Case Management Best Practice Presumptions and the SIFoCC Covid Memorandum.


The SIFoCC Judicial Observation Programme started in London 2018 when Judges from Sri Lanka, the Gambia and Uganda spent a week in the Commercial Court in London. Judge Samayawardhena, Justice Alami and Justice Bitature then attended the 2nd meeting of SIFoCC in New York later in 2018 to take part in the global discussion on best practice. All three named judges joined the online event earlier this week and gave updates on how their jurisdictions are adapting in light of social distancing measures, curfews, lockdown and demand ahead.


The event was also attended by judges from the High Court in Singapore where the third meeting of SIFoCC is due to take place in March 2021 and from the Philadelphia Court of Commerce in the United States. Judge Glazer of Philadelphia described the experience as a “beautiful picture of diversity and inclusion”.


Naturally technology was a common theme and issues around this such as handling witnesses online were examined. The conversation, chaired by Mr Justice Robin Knowles of the Commercial Court in London also touched on the different mechanisms for consulting court users in changing times and the consideration of parties without representation.


The second iteration of the SIFoCC Judicial Observation Programme is due to take place in Singapore in March 2021 and the new participants, from Jamaica, Kenya and Uganda were also present at the 90 minute virtual event. Lady Justice Kasango, Head of the Commercial Court in Kenya, the latest African jurisdiction to join SIFoCC, attended and gave her perspective on how case management is being used to address the resulting backlog.


The growing community of SIFoCC Observer Participant Judges from around the world continue to communicate using Whatsapp and, supported by the SIFoCC Secretariat it is intended that these conversations will continue. ROLE UK were also present and their support of the SIFoCC Judicial Observation programme was noted.


Lord Justice Flaux, Lead Judge for International Relations for the England & Wales judiciary gave the closing remarks and said of the event that it had “shown the importance of Judicial unity across the world. Sharing problems in this way demonstrates their commonality across jurisdictions and goes some way to helping us solve them.