Small claims court a tool for oppressing poor people, Ex-magistrate

A retired magistrate and former freedom fighter living on the Copperbelt has called for a proper mode of operation for the newly introduced Small Claims Courts in the judiciary, saying the courts were a legal instrument for oppressing poor people by money lenders.

Division Banda told Zanis in Ndola that the Small Claims Court needed justification for their existence saying in their current form, they were just  making the poor more financially and economically oppressed by the money lenders.

Mr Banda observed that the courts did not allow for any legal representation by the parties involved and the judgments were mandated to be executed within three days upon delivering the ruling.

He wondered why bailiffs were empowered to execute the judgment within three days while the aggrieved party was allowed to apply for judgment review within 30 days, during which period the execution of judgment had already been carried out.

Mr Banda said even the application for review did not make sense because judgment could already have been executed as a legal requirement within the three days upon delivery.

He said the small claims courts were a sad development in the administration of justice because there was no provision of stay of execution pending an appeal to a high court or body.

Mr Banda said since there were already conventional legal courts competent to handle such claims than targeting and subjecting the majority poor Zambians to ruthless money lenders without recourse to fair justice, it was important to do away with them or provide for fair provisions so that the majority poor could have access to fair justice.

He appealed for the abolishing of the Small Claims Court System or incorporate it into the already existing conventional legal framework.

ZANIS

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