Verdict is in: the judiciary meets its own targets — mostly
Constitutional Court falls short on new performance indicators set by the judiciary in the 2020/21 year
Court performance targets set by the judiciary for 2020/21 year were mostly met, said acting chief justice Raymond Zondo on Tuesday, with only the Constitutional Court falling short.
Zondo was delivering the judiciary’s latest annual report and said that new performance indicators and targets were determined “by the judiciary itself” in a 2020/21 performance plan.
He said the Constitutional Court had set itself a target to finalise 70% of its matters in the reporting year — matters left over from the year before and new ones.
“It had 445 matters and finalised 273 of those. That was a 61% performance. Although it fell short of its target, there was a 10% increase in its caseload,” said Zondo.
The other superior courts performed better. The Supreme Court of Appeal exceeded its own target of 80% by one percentage point. It also used two different indicators to measure its work — looking at cases enrolled as well as petitions and applications for leave to appeal received. Petitions and appeal applications make up a large chunk of the appellate court’s work but do not always get on the roll.
On the enrolled matters, the SCA finalised 146 of the 241 matters it enrolled — an 81% achievement. Measuring performance according to all the petitions and appeals received, the SCA recorded that 99% of these were finalised.
It had 445 matters and finalised 273 of those. That was a 61% performance. Though it fell short of its target, there was a 10% increase in its caseload.Acting chief justice Raymond Zondo on the Constitutional Court's performance
The high court divisions set themselves the target of 75% finalisation of criminal cases and 64% for civil cases. On criminal cases, they achieved 85%, said Zondo — “a great achievement”. On civil cases, they finalised 84%. Their performance was “very pleasing”, he said.
However, the high courts were not able to achieve the target of reducing the criminal trial backlog to 30%. They only managed to reduce it to 41%, he said.
The annual report also contains a gaping hole where the court performance of the magistrates’ courts should be.
Zondo said a systems crash caused by the security breach in the department of justice’s ICT system in September “has resulted in the information on the Integrated Case Management System, which stores the performance statistics relating to magistrates’ courts, being inaccessible”.
He said it had not been possible to extract or verify court performance information on the magistracy and “such information as could be obtained could not be verified”. It was therefore decided by the leadership of the magistracy not to include it in the report. This was “regrettable,” said Zondo.
The annual report says the target for all the superior courts collectively was to deliver 70% of their reserved judgments within three months. Collectively, they outperformed their target and achieved 78%, also a 2% increase from last year.
However, the Constitutional Court, whose judgment-turnaround time has been the subject of intense criticism in recent months, only delivered two of the twenty two judgments it reserved within three months. The Land Claims Court also came in way below target at 54%.