FAQs

Litigation

Can I obtain interim reliefs from the courts during this period in light of the closure of the courts and registries in the event I have an urgent matter?

Ethiopia - Mesfin Tafesse & Associates

Yes. The Federal Supreme Court has announced that federal courts will be partially closed due to COVID-19 with effect from 20 March 2020.  The closure of the Federal courts has been extended until the end of April 2020. However, it is possible to obtain interim relief on urgent matters that affect life, liberty and public safety.

Moreover, the Supreme Court is rendering decisions on matters that are mature and is issuing short note about the contents of its judgments.

Kenya - Anjarwalla & Khanna

All judiciary staff members have been directed to work from home until further advised. Judicial officers have been encouraged to embrace the Electronic Case Management Practice Directions, 2020, where practical.

Only urgent and time bound matters are to be filed electronically. Once the certificate of urgency has been filed electronically, parties will communicate with the court via the email addresses that have been provided for each respective division or court, to obtain directions on their matters.  The email addresses belong to the appointed judicial officers who have been appointed to manage urgent and time bound matters as well as any queries from the general public and litigants.

While it is clear that urgent matters can be filed during this period, it is not clear whether the designated judicial officer who is to communicate with litigants with urgent matters can issue interim reliefs electronically. We are yet to see how this will be practically implemented. Therefore, we shall update you once we receive further directions from the judiciary on this matter.

Malawi - Savjani & Co.

Currently, the courts have not been closed in Malawi. However, in the event of closure, some measures may be implemented to ensure that people are able to obtain interim reliefs in urgent matters during the suspension period.

Mauritius - BLC Robert & Associates

While not stated in the law current practice indicates that only exceptionally urgent and solid interim orders will be issued and the burden of proof will be higher than in normal circumstances.

It is possible to obtain interim reliefs during the suspension period, however subject to the following procedure:

District Courts
All applications are done through the Police Prosecutor or the Police Station where the Applicant resides.

Intermediate and Industrial Court
All applications must be done through the Secretary of the Law Society or the Secretary of the Bar Council, who will send the application by email to the relevant Court.

Supreme Court (Judge in Chambers)

Family Court
The Application is made through the Presiding Judge’s secretary or the Court Manager. Phone numbers are available. The said persons must be contacted by phone and they will advise as to how to proceed, after liaising with the relevant Judge. The Court Registry is closed, and no e-mail address has been given for the sending of any application.

Commercial Division
E-filing remains accessible as usual

Other divisions
Applications may be made through the secretary of the Senior Puisne Judge or the Acting Master and Registrar of the Acting Deputy Master and Registrar.

Morocco - BFR & Associés

The Ministry of Justice, the Superior Council of the Judicial Authority and the Presidency of the Public Prosecutor announced that hearings in various courts were suspended from Monday, March 16 2020 until further notice with the following exceptions:

  • criminal cases in which persons are in preventive detention;
  • cases involving investigations whether or not the person is under arrest and;
  • referral cases (procédures en référé) where judgments are taken on an urgent basis.

In the latter case, the referrals are governed by Article 149 of the Moroccan Code of Civil Procedure and concern sequestration, provisional measures such as seizures, difficulty in enforcement of a judgment or an enforceable title. The President of the Court of First Instance or the First President of a Court of Appeal is responsible for assessing the urgency of the procedure and the application made by the concerned litigant.

In addition, please note that Article 6 of the Decree-Law No. 2-20-292 on the state of health emergency provided for the suspension of all legal and regulated timelines (including the appeal time limit). Therefore, these timelines will cease to run during the suspension which runs from 20 March 2020 to 30 April 2020.

Nigeria - G.Elias & Co.

By the directives issued by some heads of courts, it is possible to approach courts for interim relief in matters:

  1. that are urgent;
  2. that are time-bound under the laws (e.g. elections-related cases); and (c) relating to violations of citizens’ rights (e.g. applications for bail).  (See Lagos State Judiciary Guidelines dated March 20, 2020 and Letter dated March 23, 2020 written by the Chief Justice of Nigeria to all “Heads of Courts”.) 

However, following the lockdown in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun States, it is not possible to obtain interim relief from courts in those States and other States of the Federation that may be locked down as the courts and the registries of courts in those States have been closed.

Rwanda - K. Solutions & Partners

All court activities have been suspended. Therefore, one cannot obtain interim relief from the courts at the moment.

Tanzania - A&K Tanzania

It is possible to obtain interim reliefs in Tanzania in the normal way because courts and tribunals are still in full operation as the Government has not issued close-down directives in response to COVID-19 outbreak.

However, protective measures have been put in place to prevent transmission of COVID-19 such as the use of sanitizers and washing hands with soap in court premises.

Uganda - MMAKS Advocates

It is possible to obtain interim reliefs during the suspension period, subject to the issuance of a Certificate of Urgency by the court upon application by the party seeking for the interim Order.

Judicial Officers are nevertheless required to be at their duty stations during the period of closure of the courts.

Zambia - Musa Dudhia & Co.

The Chief Justice in a public notice dated 27 March 2020 in addition to the Superior Courts CovidCOVID-19 precautionary measures issued on 19 March 2020 issued the following directions in relation to the High Court:

  1. the hearing of civil matters whether in Chambers or Open Court is suspended for the next 14 days effective Monday, 30th March, 2020.
  2. as an exception to (1) Judges will attend to urgent matters such as injunctions and stay of executions.
  3. the measure in (1) will be reviewed after 14 days.

Additionally, in relation to criminal matters:

  1. All High Court Criminal Sessions scheduled to commence on 6th April 2020 at Lusaka, Kitwe, Mazabuka, Solwezi, Mongu, Chipata and Kasama are herebywere deferred.

    Therefore, interim reliefs that are urgent may be granted during the 14-day suspension period. A check at theThe High Court Registries revealed that the Registries are accepting for the filing of urgent applications in relation to stays of execution, injunctions, judicial review etc.

Although the said notice is in respect of the High Court, the Court of Appeal is following the same direction regarding the hearing urgent matters.

UAE - Anjarwalla Collins & Haidermota

The Dubai Courts are no longer accepting new claims and applications through its premises if such claims or applications can be made through the online e-filing system. For any urgent matters, litigants are instructed to use e-filing and follow-up through the smart systems implemented by the courts. As such, one can file their pleadings electronically through the e-filing portal by sending signed copies of their pleadings to the e-filing system.

Will you be able to file or serve documents/pleadings following the closure of courts, registries and most offices?

Ethiopia - Mesfin Tafesse & Associates

Court buildings and registries will not be accessible to members of the public as they are currently closed. However, parties with urgent matters will be allowed to file their matters.

Kenya - Anjarwalla & Khanna

The court buildings will not be accessible to members of the public as they shall be closed. Accordingly, all court registries will be closed and one will not be able to physically file their pleadings.

Only urgent matters and time bound matters will be allowed to be filed electronically. Such pleadings are to be scanned in pdf format and sent to milimanicertificates@court.co.go.ke and a copy is to be sent to courtcertificates@court.go.ke. Each document is to be scanned separately and named appropriately.

The judiciary will then inform  the litigant of the amount they will need to pay, which will be paid via M-Pesa with the following details:

Paybill business number: 522537

Account number will be as follows: 444      Case Type       Case Number

The litigant will then forward the payment confirmation to 0793485077. The pleadings will then be processed and feedback sent using the provided email address.

Email addresses and phone numbers have been provided for respective courts or divisions, which litigants can use to communicate with judicial officers who have been appointed to communicate with litigants and the general public in relation to their matters. Therefore, once one has filed their urgent or time bound matter, they can communicate with the respective judicial officer via email to obtain directions on their matter or to seek clarification.

It is not too clear as to whether a matter will be heard and if so, the means by which it will be heard. Further guidance is to be made by the Judiciary as the COVID-19 situation unfolds and we shall update you once we obtain clarity on the filing procedures during this pandemic.

It is important to note that most offices have shut down and, therefore, it may not be possible to physically serve any documents. However, one could agree with their counterparts to accept electronic service of documents or pleadings

Malawi - Savjani & Co.

Currently, the courts have not been closed and most offices are still open in Malawi. Therefore, parties are still able to file and serve documents. In the event of closure, directions may be given on the filing and service of documents.

Mauritius - BLC Robert & Associates

The court buildings and all registries are not accessible to members of the public as they remain closed.

Only parties with urgent matters will be allowed to file their matters as described above.

With regard to cases before the commercial division of the Supreme Court, attorneys can file their pleadings electronically through the e-filing system. As per the Supreme Court, Electronic Filing Rules, applications filed through the e-filing system have to be signed. There is a general lockdown and going to the office is prohibited. It is not known whether unsigned applications filed from home will be admitted or not. The Court has issued a circular to the effect that all milestones for the filing of documents as per the Rules are waived.

It may not be possible to physically serve any documents. However, parties can agree to accept electronic service of documents or pleadings. Service of initial proceedings on Defendants is very difficult if not impossible as this cannot be done via e-mail and we in almost all the cases do not have the e-mail addresses of the opponents, if ever the opponents are ready and willing to accept e-mail service.

Morocco - BFR & Associés

The court buildings will not be accessible to members of the public. Accordingly, all court registries will be closed. It is important to note that most offices have shut down and, therefore, it may not be possible to physically serve any documents. However, the government announced the introduction of an online electronic service system to complete certain formalities. 

In addition, the President of the Ministry of Public stated that citizens can file their complaints before the King’s Attorneys General before the Courts of Appeal and the King’s judges before the Courts of First Instance by fax or email via the website of the public prosecutor www.pmp.ma.

The Ministry of Justice also recommended that users follow up on certain documents (business register certificates, criminal records, follow-up of cases and court proceedings) via www.mahakim.ma

Nigeria - G.Elias & Co.

No. Documents/pleadings cannot be filed and served as the courts, registries and offices have been closed, especially those in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun States. 

However, documents/pleadings can be filed and served in places where courts and registries have not been closed and movement is not restricted.

Rwanda - K. Solutions & Partners

The court buildings will not be accessible to members of the public as they shall be closed. However, all court registries will continue to operate through the Rwanda Integrated Electronic Case Management System. Accordingly, the delivery of documents and pleadings, the institution of court cases or appeals and payment of court fees are conducted using this online platform. Administrative work with regard to court cases is also being conducted using the Rwanda Integrated Electronic Case Management System.

Tanzania - A&K Tanzania

Members of the public can access court buildings, court services and attend court sessions as normal because the Government has not issued closed down directives in response to COVID-19 spread.

In Tanzania most offices especially public offices are open and running business as usual. Therefore, there should not be any problem with filing or service of documents. However, protective measures have been put in place to prevent transmission of COVID-19 such as the use of sanitizers and washing hands in court premises.

Uganda - MMAKS Advocates

Court Registries are expected to remain open and accordingly documents can be filed.

The Government however discourages the use of public transport, which is the mode used by many registry staff members, advising persons with no private means of transport to stay at home. This is likely to result in few or no staff turning up for work to receive court documents.

Zambia - Musa Dudhia & Co.

In light of the public notice dated 27 March 2020 referred to above, the Registries of the High Court are operating only to allow the filing of urgent matters such as injunctions and stays of execution. A certificate of urgency must therefore be filed with urgent applications.

Therefore, pPleadings and other documents in relation to matters not classified as urgent, or not filed with a certificate of urgency, will not be allowed to be filedaccepted for filing. It follows that filing of pleadings in matters where there is a limitation of time for the filing of the pleadings, a certificate of urgency must be prepared and filed together with the pleadings.

In relation to filing in the Court of Appeal Registry, any documents and pleadings may be filed as the registry is operating normally, subject to measures put in place in terms social distancing and the number of people that may be allowed inside the registry to be attended to at the same time.

In relation to serving of parties, the Presidential Statement issued by the President on 25 March 2020 closed down all bars, night clubs, cinemas, gyms and casinos and affirmed the closure of the schools, colleges and university. However, other businesses remain operational. It has been up to those businesses to decide on whether they wish to continue operations or impose upon themselves other measures such as working remotely from home.

Businesses are however being encouraged to scale down the number of staff as much as possible. Therefore, where a party wishes to serve on a business that is closed, the parties may serve documents electronically or may communicate with the parties they wish to serve to agree on how or where service may be effected

UAE - Anjarwalla Collins & Haidermota

The court buildings will not be accessible to members of the public as they shall be closed.

Similarly, the DIFC Courts have confirmed that its employees are currently operating on a remote basis. The doors of the DIFC Courts and Registry Offices are physically closed until further notice. All hearings will take place by video conference where possible. Practitioners are further encouraged to use the DIFC Courts’ e-bundling platform for preparing and lodging hearing bundles.

Cases are, however, continuing to be filed with the local courts through their online portal and services and notifications of their filing are dispatched to the concerned parties via email and post. Physical notification of the filing of cases may be delayed or replaced by the online service.  However, this does not pervert any party from filing a case or submitting any documents related to any case to the court through their online system.

If not, will I be penalised for failing to do so?

Ethiopia - Mesfin Tafesse & Associates

There will be no penalty. However, where it is impossible or impractical to file and serve a document, either due to the fact that it is not urgent or if one is unable to effect service, the parties must wait until the courts reopen to effect service.

Malawi - Savjani & Co.

If the courts, registries and most offices are closed, directions may be given on whether a party will be penalised for failure to file or serve documents. If no directions are given, it would be useful if parties could agree in writing on the mode and timeline within which they could file and serve their documents.

Mauritius - BLC Robert & Associates

The Courts will be lenient concerning deadlines and in the case of e-filing cases, there is an official circular from the Court to the effect that all milestones and deadlines are waived.

Nigeria - G.Elias & Co.

Yes. The Rules of Courts prescribe penalties for late filing and service of court process.  Courts do not exercise jurisdiction in the following circumstances:

  1. where court documents have not been properly filed; and
  2. in ex parte applications, where service has not been effected on the other party.

Rwanda - K. Solutions & Partners

Yes, one could be penalised for failing to file their pleadings since physical presence is not required for filing pleadings owing to the Rwanda Integrated Electronic Case Management System.

General

Where it is impossible or impractical to file and serve a document, either due to the fact that it is not urgent or if one is unable to effect service, it would be useful if parties could agree in writing on the mode and timeline within which they could file and serve their documents.

Can I execute a court order during this period of suspension of court activities?

Ethiopia - Mesfin Tafesse & Associates

All execution proceedings have been suspended until the end of April 2020. In addition, no action will be ordered with respect to existing interim orders.

Kenya - Anjarwalla & Khanna

All execution proceedings have been suspended for two (2) weeks effective 16 March 2020.  In addition, no precipitate action will be ordered with respect to existing interim orders.

However, please note that some judges are delivering rulings and judgments electronically with the consent of the relevant parties.

Malawi - Savjani & Co.

Court activities have not yet been suspended in Malawi and parties are at liberty to execute court orders.

Mauritius - BLC Robert & Associates

All execution proceedings are suspended. The Ushers, who execute Court Orders, are not allowed (like all citizens) to go out unless they have a permit, and such permits are not easily obtainable and several applications have not been entertained.

Morocco - BFR & Associés

Hearings of various courts have been suspended with effect from Monday, March 16 2020 until further notice with the following exceptions:

  • criminal cases where persons are in preventive detention;
  • cases involving investigations whether the person is under arrest or not and;
  • referral cases (procédures en référé) where judgments are taken on an urgent basis.

In the latter case, the referrals are in particular governed by Article 149 of the Moroccan Code of Civil Procedure and concern sequestration, provisional measures such as seizures, difficulty in enforcement of judgments or an enforceable title.

Please note that the President of the Court of First Instance or the First President of a Court of Appeal is responsible for assessing the urgency of the procedure and therefore of the application made by the concerned litigant.

Please note that Article 6 of the Decree-Law on the state of health emergency provided for the suspension of all legal and regulated timelines. Therefore, these timelines will cease to run during the suspension from 20 March 2020 to 20 April 2020, unless extended.

Therefore, the suspension of these timelines would cover the timelines for appeals, limitation periods, foreclosure periods and those for instituting proceedings.

Nigeria - G.Elias & Co.

No, execution of court orders is practically impossible in view of the movement restriction imposed by the President and Governors in some states of the Federation including Lagos and Ogun States and the Federal Capital Territory. Court enforcement officials are neither available nor are they authorised to enforce court orders during this time.

Rwanda - K. Solutions & Partners

All execution proceedings have been suspended for two (2) weeks effective 16 March 2020 which can be extended.

Tanzania - A&K Tanzania

Execution of court orders and all other proceedings are still up and running as the government in Tanzania has not issued close-down directives in response to COVID-19 outbreak.

Uganda - MMAKS Advocates

All execution proceedings have been suspended for 32 days with effect from 20 March 2020.

Zambia - Musa Dudhia & Co.

If execution of the Court involves making an appearance before the Court in a matter which is not urgent, such as an injunction or stay of execution, such execution may only be effected after the 14 day suspension of activities. The Court registries are not accepting writs of execution for filing. It follows that while no specific directives have been issued in relation to execution of court orders, it is unlikely that execution will be allowed.

UAE - Anjarwalla Collins & Haidermota

All execution proceedings can be registered and submitted to the relevant court through the online e-filing system and follow ups can be made through the smart systems.

How will new dates be obtained for the matters that were to be heard or mentioned during the suspension period?

Ethiopia - Mesfin Tafesse & Associates

Judges have been directed to issue new dates for pending matters and the new dates for each matter will be posted on a notice board in the court’s premises. One may also be able to obtain a new date using the short code “992”, though the text messaging alternative often doesn’t work.

Malawi - Savjani & Co.

If the courts are closed, directions may be given on how new dates will be obtained.

Nigeria - G.Elias & Co.

The courts will allocate the dates and communicate the dates to the parties and their counsel through hearing notices. In the event the court fails to communicate the new dates, parties or counsel on record can request the court for the new dates or they can call the court registrars to request the new dates.

Rwanda - K. Solutions & Partners

New dates will be issued on a priority basis once judiciary operations normalise.

Tanzania - A&K Tanzania

Please refer to the responses in 1, 2 and 3 above.

Zambia - Musa Dudhia & Co.

No directions have been issued regarding how new dates matters will be obtained. Such information may be communicated once the suspension lapses. Some judges have however been issuing rescheduled dates of hearing for matters affected by the suspension. Note that theThe measure to suspend hearings in civil cases in the High Court is subject to review after 14 days.on 14th April 2020.

General

New dates will be issued on a priority basis once judiciary operations normalise.

UAE - Anjarwalla Collins & Haidermota

New dates will be issued on a priority basis once judiciary operations normalise. Ongoing cases are proceeding as usual with new dates being set by the court as per usual practice. Physical hearings have been suspended. However, virtual hearings and video conferencing are taking place and the court is processing cases.

What will happen to interim orders that were set to lapse during the suspension period?

Ethiopia - Mesfin Tafesse & Associates

It is not yet clear what would happen. However, if such an instance is deemed to be urgent, a judge may entertain the same.

Kenya - Anjarwalla & Khanna

Parties have been encouraged to extend them by consent. In any event, all execution proceedings have been suspended for two (2) weeks with effect from 16 March 2020. This period may be extended subject to further guidance by the Chief Justice of Kenya or the heads of each court station.

Malawi - Savjani & Co.

If the courts are closed, directions may be given on what will happen to interim orders that may lapse during the suspension period.

Mauritius - BLC Robert & Associates

This period will be extended subject to further guidance by the Chief Justice of Mauritius.

Morocco - BFR & Associés

In principle, interim orders may be enforced during the suspension period.

Nigeria - G.Elias & Co.

The interim orders will lapse. However, the parties may file an application to the court to have them extended.

Rwanda - K. Solutions & Partners

In any event, all execution proceedings have been suspended for two (2) weeks with effect from 16 March 2020. This period may be extended subject to further guidance by the Government.

Tanzania - A&K Tanzania

Please refer to the responses in 1, 2 and 3 above.

Uganda - MMAKS Advocates

Parties may extend them by consent or upon application by letter to the Court. In any event, all execution proceedings have been suspended for 32 days with effect from 20 March 2020. This period may be extended subject to further guidance by the Chief Justice of Uganda.

Zambia - Musa Dudhia & Co.

No directives have been issued in this regard. It is therefore prudent for parties to either extend the period by consent or make an urgent application to the Court for extension of time.

What is the status of operations at the Court of Appeal and the Magistrates Court during this period?

Ethiopia - Mesfin Tafesse & Associates

The suspension of court proceeding applies to all hearings and submissions in both civil and criminal cases at the Federal First Instance Court, Federal High Court and Federal Supreme Court including the Cassation Division.

Kenya - Anjarwalla & Khanna

All hearings and mentions in both civil and criminal cases have also been suspended at the Court of Appeal and Magistrate Courts.

Execution proceedings have also been suspended for two weeks with effect from 16 March 2020.

Each station will only have one duty judge or magistrate who will only hear urgent matters once a week, that is on Thursdays, with effect from 19 March 2020.

Further guidelines may be issued with regard to operations at the Court of Appeal and the Magistrate Courts.

Malawi - Savjani & Co.

The Supreme Court of Appeal and Magistrate Courts in Malawi are still operational.

Mauritius - BLC Robert & Associates

All hearings and mentions in both civil and criminal cases have also been suspended at the Court of Appeal. Further guidelines may be issued with regard to operations at the Court of Appeal.

Morocco - BFR & Associés

Hearings and mentions in both civil and criminal cases have been suspended at the Court of Appeal and Magistrate Courts until further notice with the following exceptions:

  • criminal cases where persons are in preventive detention;
  • cases involving investigations whether the person is under arrest or not and;
  • referral cases (procédures en référé) where judgments are taken on an urgent basis.

In the latter case, the referrals are in particular governed by Article 149 of the Moroccan Code of Civil Procedure and concern sequestration, provisional measures such as seizures, difficulty in enforcement of judgments or an enforceable title.

Nigeria - G.Elias & Co.

The operations of the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos and Ogun States and the Federal Capital Territory are suspended for an initial period of two (2) weeks commencing on 24 March 2020, following the directives of the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Acting President of the Court of Appeal. 

The Courts of Appeal sitting in Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory will not be able to operate following the Presidential restriction of all movements in those places.  However, some courts are still operational regardless of the President’s directive.

The restriction of movement will also affect the Magistrate Courts in areas where movement has been restricted.  Further, the Hon. Chief Justice of Lagos State has directed that all Magistrates within main Magisterial Districts should handle only criminal overnight cases relating to detention and custody.  Proceedings in Magistrate Courts in other districts and mobile courts have been suspended.

Tanzania - A&K Tanzania

All hearings and mentions in both civil and criminal matters in the Court of Appeal and all Magistrates courts are in progress as the Government has not issued closed-down directives.

However, protective measures have been put in place to prevent transmission of COVID-19 such as the use of sanitizers and washing hands in court premises

Uganda - MMAKS Advocates

The Chief Justice’s directive to suspend Court hearings and appearances applies to all Courts, i.e. the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal (which doubles as the Constitutional Court), the High Court and all courts subordinate to the High Court.

Zambia - Musa Dudhia & Co.

The Court of Appeal has adopted the measures imposed in the High Court in relation to the hearing of urgent matters such as injunctions and stay of execution. However, the Registry is operational and documents may be filed normally.

The hearing of civil cases in Subordinate Courts and Local Courts is suspended until further notice except for urgent matters such as may be determined by the Magistrate in Charge and authorised officers under the Local Courts. Where a hearing is permitted to proceed, only parties, their advocates and witnesses will be allowed in the Court room.

Urgent matters that were scheduled to be heard in Chambers will only be heard in open court.

In relation to criminal cases, mentioning of cases for accused persons in remand custody is suspended until further notice. Accordingly, matters regarding accused persons in custody shall be mentioned in absentia during the period of suspension.

Mentioning of cases for accused persons on bail or police bond and committals to the High Court will be done in absentia.

Criminal trials will continue subject to precautions such as allowing only the accused, their advocates and witnesses to be present during the trial and no criminal matters are to be heard in chambers.

UAE - Anjarwalla Collins & Haidermota

All physical hearings in both civil and criminal cases have also been suspended at the Court of Appeal and the Court of Cassation. However, all criminal proceedings (including trials and appeals) that involve imprisoned individuals and detainees are excluded from the suspension. Hearings continue to take place through video conferencing in most UAE courts, both onshore and in free zones.

Nonetheless, all time limits for filing appeals and cassation challenges remain unaffected.

Can a witness be excused from attending court if their date falls outside the period when court activities have been suspended but the witness is reluctant to travel owing to COVID-19?

Ethiopia - Mesfin Tafesse & Associates

If a witness has justifiable reasons to warrant non-attendance of a hearing, they can be excused from attending court depending on whether the judge agrees that the witness had justifiable reasons.

Given the circumstances and the recommendation by the government to stay at home to contain COVID-19, the reluctance by the witness not to travel owing to risk of exposure to COVID-19 may be considered as a good cause.

Kenya - Anjarwalla & Khanna

In the event a witness is unable to travel to attend court for a hearing, the witness must be able to prove via documentary evidence that they have clear and justifiable grounds as to why they cannot attend court.

If the concerns and restrictions relating to COVID-19 are still in issue in Kenya or in the country where the witness is situated after the suspension period, one could be deemed to have credible reasons for failing to attend court, thereby warranting the issuance of an alternative date or the witness testifying via video conference.

Prior to making such an application in court, the witness’ advocate should reach out to opposing counsel in a bid to try and enter into a written consent to defer the hearing to an alternative date or for the witness to testify via video conference. If they do not agree, the witness through their advocate can make the application to the court.

However, please note that each case is determined on a case by case basis.

Malawi - Savjani & Co.

The party calling the witness may make an application for permission from the court for the witness to give his or her evidence via video link.

Mauritius - BLC Robert & Associates

Attendance will be subject to the discretion of the Court.

Nigeria - G.Elias & Co.

A witness who is reluctant to travel owing to genuine COVID-19 concerns can be excused from attending court even if the date falls outside the period when court activities are suspended. The party/lawyer presenting such a witness will inform the Court and seek other dates for such a witness to appear in Court. However, where there are no genuine COVID-19 concerns, the witness will not be excused by the Court.

Rwanda - K. Solutions & Partners

At the moment, all court activities have been suspended in Rwanda with no exception. As such, it is difficult to ascertain whether a witness can be excused then.

Tanzania - A&K Tanzania

Please refer to the responses in 1, 2 and 3 above.

All court sessions are not suspended so witnesses are expected to be in attendance as summoned.

Uganda - MMAKS Advocates

A witness would be required to attend Court whether physically or via the video conferencing facilities available in some divisions of the High Court.

Zambia - Musa Dudhia & Co.

This is aThe matter which will require being brought before to the attention of a the Judge before the trial and the Judge will thus advise accordingly.

UAE - Anjarwalla Collins & Haidermota

The court buildings will not be accessible to members of the public as they shall be closed. However, video conferencing has been utilised by a number of UAE courts for matters such as witness hearings (in the presence of a duly authorised advocate).

DIFC Courts have also permitted witnesses to give evidence at trial by way of a video conferencing or video link in light of COVID-19.

Will I be able to obtain an early date for my matter, in light of the backlog of cases that will arise owing to matters that were taken out during the suspension period being prioritised?

Ethiopia - Mesfin Tafesse & Associates

No, the judges are authorised to prioritise and give new appointment dates on their own discretion.

Kenya - Anjarwalla & Khanna

Allocation of court dates will depend on the directives issued by the Chief Justice or the directions given by the heads of each division after the suspension period.

However, mention dates shall be given on a priority basis for all matters affected by the suspension as soon as the situation normalises.

Malawi - Savjani & Co.

If the courts are closed, allocation of court dates after the suspension period will depend on the directives issued by the Chief Justice.

Mauritius - BLC Robert & Associates

Allocation of court dates will depend on the directives issued by the Chief Justice or the directions given by the Presiding Magistrates of each lower Court after the suspension period.

Nigeria - G.Elias & Co.

An early date may be obtained depending on the Court’s docket. Dates are given considering the urgency of the cases and the convenience of the Courts.

Rwanda - K. Solutions & Partners

Allocation of court dates will depend on the directives issued by the Chief Justice and the directions given by the President of each court after the suspension period.

However, mention dates shall be given on a priority basis for all matters affected by the suspension as soon as the situation normalises. In practice, a party may apply to the President of the Court in order to obtain an early date for their matter. They would need to provide justifiable grounds and supporting documentation to persuade the President to render a favourable decision.

Tanzania - A&K Tanzania

Please refer to the responses in 1, 2 and 3 above.

No backlog of cases is expected because court sessions are not suspended in response to COVID-19 outbreak.

Uganda - MMAKS Advocates

Court date fixtures will largely depend on the diaries of the respective Judicial Officers and the vigilance of the Advocates.

Zambia - Musa Dudhia & Co.

Allocation of court dates will depend on the directives issued by the Chief Justice or the directions given by the heads of each division after the suspension period. However urgent matters are likely to be given priority.

UAE - Anjarwalla Collins & Haidermota

Allocation of court dates will depend on the directives issued by the relevant courts of each Emirate. As at 11 May 2020, no information has been provided as to whether priority court dates will be granted for any matters which were put on hold during the COVID-19 restriction period. A number of cases have been postponed for a month or more to allow time for the lockdown and current conditions to be lifted. These are issued on a case by case basis and are at the judges’ discretion.

Contacts

Aisha Abdallah

Aisha Abdallah

Partner, Anjarwalla & Khanna

Andre Robert

Andre Robert

Partner And Senior Attorney, BLC Robert & Associates

Arshad Dudhia

Arshad Dudhia

Managing Partner, Musa Dudhia & Co.

Eric Cyaga

Eric Cyaga

Partner, K. Solutions & Partners

Faith M. Macharia

Faith M. Macharia

Partner, Anjarwalla & Khanna

Fidelis Adewole

Fidelis Adewole

Partner, G.Elias & Co.

Foued Bourabiat

Foued Bourabiat

Managing Partner, Bourabiat Associés

Gbolahan Elias

Gbolahan Elias

Partner, G.Elias & Co.

Geofrey Dimoso

Geofrey Dimoso

Partner, A&K Tanzania

Gil Cambule

Gil Cambule

Partner, ABCC

Gulam Farid Patel

Gulam Farid Patel

Partner, Musa Dudhia & Co.

Isaac Walukagga

Isaac Walukagga

Partner, MMAKS Advocates

Julien Kavuruganda

Julien Kavuruganda

Partner, K. Solutions & Partners

Krishna Savjani

Krishna Savjani

Managing Partner, Savjani & Co.

Luisa Cetina

Luisa Cetina

Director, Anjarwalla & Khanna

Mathias Ssekatawa

Mathias Ssekatawa

Partner, MMAKS Advocates

Mesfin Tafesse

Mesfin Tafesse

Principal Attorney, Mesfin Tafesse & Associates

Moses Adriko

Moses Adriko

Managing Partner, MMAKS Advocates

Mushtaq Namdarkhan

Mushtaq Namdarkhan

Partner, BLC Robert & Associates

Paulo Centeio

Paulo Centeio

Partner, ABCC

Sahondra Rabenarivo

Sahondra Rabenarivo

Managing Partner, Madagascar Law Office

Salimatou Diallo

Salimatou Diallo

Partner, SD Avocats

Shemane Amin

Shemane Amin

Partner, A&K Tanzania

Timothy Masembe

Timothy Masembe

Managing Partner, MMAKS Advocates

Yasmina Baddou

Yasmina Baddou

Partner, BFR & Associés