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Friday, 12 June 2020

Virtual Hearing Solution of the Commercial High Courts of Sri Lanka - Demonstration

Commercial High Courts set to go Virtual!

From the 16th of March 2020 to 11th of May 2020, when the entire country was brought under lockdown, judicial operations also came to a complete halt except under limited circumstances. The pandemic lead to all cases fixed to be heard during that period to be refixed; which to date are being called in open court – solely for the purpose of being fixed to another date.

Considering this setback faced by the legal fraternity which fueled the delay in access to justice and the continued repercussions of court proceedings coming to a standstill, the Colombo Law Library supported by the Colombo Law Society, in partnership with Sri Lanka Telecom developed an online platform which would permit cases to be heard remotely with the use of Video Conferencing technology. The said platform was developed by a team from Sri Lanka Telecom in Collaboration with a group of lawyers under the guidance of Mr. Chandaka Jayasundere P.C. and Mr. Avindra Rodrigo P. C. 

With the aim of bringing the project into operation, a demonstration of the Virtual Hearing System was held today (12 June 2020) at the Colombo Law Library. The demonstration was conducted before esteemed members of the judiciary, lawyers and probable sponsors.

Hon. Denis Chaibi (Ambassador, European Union), Sanjaya Rajaratnam P.C. (Acting Solicitor General), Hon. Sampath Wijeratne (High Court Judge – Commercial High Court No. 1), Hon. Ahsan Marikar (High Court Judge – Commercial High Court No. 2), Hon. Frank Gunawardhana (High Court Judge – Commercial High Court No. 3), Hon. Amali Ranaweera (District judge, Colombo) and Hon. Lanka Jayaratne (Chief Magistrate, Colombo) graced the occasion with their presence.

Adding more allure to the event, Frank Hess (Head of Cooperation, European Union), Dinesha De Silva (Country Representative, The Asia Foundation), Dr. Ramani Jayasundere (Director – Gender and Justice, The Asia Foundation) Tania Perera (Communication/Visibility and Media Officer - European Union), Sonali Wijekoon (Chief Legal Officer, Sri Lanka Telecom), Prabath Ambegoda (Chief Corporate and Digital Projects, Sri Lanka Telecom), Rohan Sahabandu P. C., Chandaka Jayasundere P. C., Avindra Rodrigo P. C., Rajeev Amarasuriya (Secretary, Bar Association of Sri Lanka), Shivaan Coorey (Secretary, Colombo Law Library) and Vijaya Gamage (President, Colombo Law Society) were also present at the demonstration. 

The Virtual Hearing Solution has been developed with simplicity and ease of use in mind ensuring that the practice followed in court houses is aptly digitized as is - giving lawyers an easy transition from the present routine at court. Upon registration, lawyers will be presented options to enter a Virtual Court Room of Choice which leads to a Video Conference Interface with the Judges of the respective courts which will be visible to all. When a case is called, Counsels related to the case will then be permitted to present themselves on video and audio to the Judge to make their application. A broadcast of the same will also be made available to the public. 

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