Virtual international meeting of the SIFoCC Judicial Observation Programme

Commercial Court

Judges from eight different countries, across six different time zones, met on Microsoft Teams  for a live event on the Standing International Forum of Commercial Court’s (SIFoCC) Judicial Observation Programme.

They were able to share their experiences and discuss work streams including the SIFoCC Case Management Best Practice Presumptions (external link, opens in a new tab) and the SIFoCC COVID Memorandum (external link, opens in a new tab).

The conversation was chaired by Mr Justice Robin Knowles of the Commercial Court in London. Technology was a common theme, as were the handling of witnesses online, different mechanisms for consulting court users in changing times, and the consideration of parties without representation.

The Judicial Observation Programme started in London 2018 when judges from Sri Lanka, the Gambia and Uganda spent a week in the Commercial Court in London. Judge Samayawardhena, Justice Alami (external link, opens in a new tab) and Justice Bitature joined the online discussion to explain how their jurisdictions are adapting in light of social distancing measures, curfews, lockdown and demand.

The virtual event was also attended by judges from the High Court in Singapore (external link, opens in a new tab) (where SIFoCC is due to meet in March 2021), the Philadelphia Court of Commerce (external link, opens in a new tab) in the USA, and SIFOCC’s new participants from Jamaica (external link, opens in a new tab), Kenya (external link, opens in a new tab) and Uganda (external link, opens in a new tab).

Lord Justice Flaux, Lead Judge for International Relations for the England & Wales judiciary, gave the closing remarks at the discussion, saying: “The event has shown the importance of judicial unity across the world. Sharing problems in this way demonstrates their commonality across jurisdictions and goes some way to helping us solve them.”