New ‘Virtual’ Courthouse To Be Trialled

The Colombo Law Library, together with the Colombo Law Society and Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) last week demonstrated a new online platform through which cases could be tried in a ‘virtual courtroom’—to minimise crowding at courtrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The platform will allow lawyers ‘enter’ a virtual courtroom and communicate with judges through video conferencing technology, in the hope this remote hearing will ensure the function of the courts, even with restrictions brought about as a result of the pandemic. 

The platform, which was demonstrated before legal professionals, is expected to be officially trialled at higher courts in the Colombo district, followed by lower courts and other districts soon, with the long-term objective of automating the entire judicial system. 

On 20 May, the Magistrates’ Courts in Hulftsdorp conducted, for the first time ever, a video conference call with the Welikada Prison, as part of a pilot project to digitise the country’s court system as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Philippines, Ireland, and Nigeria were some of the other countries that piloted digital courtrooms for the first time at this time. 

Virtual courtrooms have become popular with video conferencing considered an appropriate response to the social distancing necessitated by the pandemic.

*Image features pilot project conducted on 20 May 2020

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