Statement by Dr. Henning Karcher, UNDP Resident Representative on the occasion of the Interaction Programme on Civil Procedure Guidelines held in Kathmandu

25 May 2002

Statement by Dr. Henning Karcher, UNDP Resident Representative on the occasion of the Interaction Programme on Civil Procedure Guidelines held in Kathmandu, 25 May 2002

Rt. Honorable Chief Justice Mr. Keshab Prasad Upadhyay, Honourable Justice Mr. Khil Raj Regmi, Honourable Judges, Representatives of the Legal Profession, Colleagues and friends,

It is a great pleasure for me to address you today on the occasion of this important event the Interaction Programme on Civil Procedure Guidelines. As pointed out in the report of the Court Management Committee of the year 2055 there is scope for improvements in a number of areas of the Nepali judicial system.

UNDP feels privileged to have been able to work in this important area in close association and consultation with the Rt. Honourable Chief Justice, his colleagues in the judicial system and also the Ministry of Law and Justice. Our joint objective is to streamline and contribute to the improvement of codes and acts as well as procedures and institutions. In the area of legal codes we have had the pleasure of working for an extended period of time with a Committee chaired by the Attorney General. After many rounds of consultations the new criminal code is now almost ready for submission to Parliament. I am confident that it will go a long way in modernizing criminal law and bringing it in line with requirements of our days.

Formulating a new civil code will be an equally important and challenging task. Now, as we have already agreed to separate the criminal code from the Muluki Ain we should not hesitate to do the same for the civil code. Having a modern civil code and civil justice system will go a long way in reinforcing investors confidence and thereby contributing to the growth of the economy. No professional investor will ever put significant resources into any venture unless he or she can have confidence that contracts can be enforced through a reasonably efficient civil justice system and capital repatriated if appropriate.

Before the new civil code and civil procedures code are formulated interim steps need to be taken to make the existing system more effective and efficient without delay. Against this background I feel that the preparation of civil procedure guidelines represents an important and most valuable initiative. I would like to congratulate in particular the Supreme Court and the Rt. Honourable Chief Justice for the critical important role they have played in this context. Having all the relevant laws and procedures handily together, combined with relevant decisions of the Supreme Court strikes me as something of immense value for all legal practitioners.

Allow me to also briefly touch on some other areas where we had the privilege of working with the judiciary and where I feel we will be able to make a contribution. Setting up pilot courts with separate benches for civil and criminal laws will be very beneficial. So will be experimentation with new rules, procedure and practices. It is of paramount importance to accelerate the flow of cases. The old saying that justice delayed equals justice denied applies also to certain extent to the situation in Nepal.

Overburdening the formal judicial system with too many cases of minor importance can clog the system and cause delays. This is indeed the case in Nepal. Support to the establishment of Arbitration Boards as foreseen in the Local Self-Governance Act will go a long way in providing relief in this respect. This is another area where UNDP has been working with His Majesty’s Government over an extended period of time. Social and legal studies have already been carried out in this context in selected districts (Bardia, Kaski and Dhankuta) and brainstorming sessions conducted. A team of high level Government officials and two members of Parliament have recently visited a few countries in order to provide final inputs for the related regulations. We trust that any bottlenecks that have existed in this context will soon be overcome.

Few measures could be more beneficial in the long run for the judicial system than building up capacity for the formulation of laws and regulations that are clear and in line with the values and aspirations of those who are expected to apply the laws. UNDP has been privileged to be engaged with the Ministry of Law and Justice in a long-term programme of building capacity for legal drafting.

Finally let me mention that Information Technology can also be very helpful in enhancing effectiveness and efficiency of judicial work at all levels of the system. Only very recently we were able to support the training of 24 court officials in this critically important area.

In closing allow me to once again congratulate the authors of the civil procedure guidelines and all of you on your commitment to improve the judicial system with a view to further serving the needs of the people of Nepal.

Thank you.