From The Chief Judge's Chambers

John Tsoho, chief judge (CJ) of the federal high court, has authorised the use of virtual tools such as Zoom and Skype for court proceedings. This is contained in the new 2020 practice directions for the COVID-19 period which takes effect from May 18.

The CJ, however, noted that virtual proceeding must be carried out with the consent of the parties and their counsels. “Virtual proceeding is hereby adopted for adjudication in the federal high court,” he said.
“Virtual proceedings can be either by Zoom, Skype or any other audio-visual platform approved by the court.
“Service of court processes may be effected by e-mails, WhatsApp or as may be directed by the court, and shall be deemed as good service.
“Service of hearing notices may be effected by e-mail, WhatsApp, text messages or as may be directed by the Court. The printout of the same shall be sufficient proof of service.”

Tsoho stated that the judge, as well as counsels who engage in virtual proceedings, must be robed as though they are in court.

He also added that in line with the COVID-19 regulations of federal and state governments, “face masks must be properlyworn by everyone within the court premises to cover their mouths and noses at all times.”
“Every person within the premises of the court and inside the courtroom shall observe the requirement of social and physical distancing of not less than two meters (six feet) apart from each other,” he said.
“At any given time, there shall not be a congregation of more than ten (10) within the court premises, except for purposes of court sittings.
“There shall not be more than twenty (20) persons inside the courtroom including the court staff and counsel at court sittings.”

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