He made this disclosure while speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2023 Legal Year held at the High Court Complex in Banjul.
CJ Jallow said the 11,568 new cases in 2022 were filed across all the courts in the country, from the Supreme Court to the Subordinate Courts, the magistrates, the Cadi Courts, the Children’s Courts, and the specialised tribunals.
This new figure represents a significant increase of 30% on the 8,882 cases for the year 2021, he said, adding that in 2022, the courts were able to dispose of a total of 6,800 cases representing 58% of the workload, and an increase of 1,978 cases on the total of 4,822 cases disposed of in 2021.
Furthermore, the mission of the judiciary remains constant: to ensure a fair, impartial and timely delivery of quality justice by a competent, motivated and committed staff, CJ Jallow expatiated, saying: “We have observed that the majority of the case workload of the courts relate to civil matters, a significant portion of them being land disputes from the West Coast Region (WCR).”
According to the Chief Justice, some of the land disputes involve communities, and some emanate from the alleged activities of estate agents. He says land is a very precious and scarce resource everywhere, especially in The Gambia.
Moreover, he pointed out, unresolved land disputes can have an impact on communal peace and stability, adding that the speedy resolution of land disputes is essential, as is the speedy and fair resolution of commercial disputes, for the economy.
He said there is a need for the state to establish a well-resourced land and commercial disputes court as envisaged by the Judiciary Strategic Plan.
Such a court, he suggested, should be accompanied by the review and reform of the legal sector relating to land to provide a more efficient and effective system of land administration.
Veering unto the much talked-about issue of estate agents in the land and property business, the Chief Justice reiterated that the estate agency sector remains unregulated.
There is an urgent need for the enactment of laws that regulate the activities of estate agents including their registration, qualification, supervision, and discipline, the higher justice authority emphasised.
On matters of civil cases, he said the courts should only be called upon to settle civil disputes which the parties are unable to resolve. Therefore, serious efforts for out-of-court settlement should be preferable to dispute by parties.