Source: Govt slashes High Court fees | The Herald July 25, 2016
Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter—
Government has slashed some High Court fees to promote access to justice for all in line with the country’s thrust of improving the ease of doing business. Since the launch of the 10-point plan for economic growth by President Mugabe in his State of the Nation Address last year, Government has been making concerted efforts to implement the plan and set the ball rolling by launching a national programme dubbed “Ease of Doing Business in Zimbabwe”.
The “Ease of Doing Business in Zimbabwe” programme is premised on addressing challenges faced by entrepreneurs who are seeking to open and operate small to medium-sized businesses in compliance with the relevant laws and regulations.
With support from the World Bank, Government has already started implementing the “Ease of Doing Business in Zimbabwe”, to foster economic growth and come up with strategies to revitalise the economy.
Smaller companies in Zimbabwe could not access justice due to the exorbitant costs associated with filing civil claims but with the current legal reforms, including the recent reduction of the High Court taxation and photocopying fees, Government has gone a step ahead in making Zimbabwe a safe investment destination.
Previously, for any legal costs awarded to litigants in civil suits, the High Court would charge $20 on every $100 of the total cost, which translated into 20 percent of the total figure. If the costs awarded were $1 million, the court would charge $200 000 as its fees for assisting in coming up with the proper figure, a process known as taxation in legal circles.
Statutory Instrument 74 of 2016 amended the taxation fees to a fixed $60 for every work done by the court. This means if $1 million costs are awarded to a litigant, the court will only deduct a fixed $60 as taxation fees.
The same SI 74/2016 gazetted on July 15 this year reduced the cost of photocopying any filed court documents from $1 per page to 10 cents a page. Court records cannot go outside the building for security reasons and all the work is done by the court. Charging $1 per page was deemed prohibitive and those intending to make copies of the documents in preparation of the court cases would be scared away.
Typing of original documents at court was also $1 per page but it was slashed to 10 cents in terms of the recently gazetted piece of legislation. Under the Ease of Doing Business programme, plans are underway to establish a specialised commercial court, a division of the High Court to speedily resolve commercial disputes and to ensure quality justice to business.
Courts are essential for entrepreneurs because they interpret the rules of the market and protect economic rights. Efficient and transparent courts of law encourage new business relationships. The recent decentralisation of the small claims court through Statutory Instrument 34 of 2016 has also played a significant role in making the country conducive for business.
Such court can now be found at every magistrate’s court countrywide and its jurisdiction was upped from $250 to $1 000. Instead of forking out fares travelling to and from provincial towns for the small claims, upcoming business people can now walk to their nearest magistrates’ court for justice.
Statutory Instrument 49 of 2016 slashed the photocopying charges at the Supreme Court from $1 to 20 cents a copy. Several bills including the Unified Insolvency Bill, High Court Amendment Bill and the Estate Administrators Amendment Bill are now being reviewed with a view to promote a conducive business environment for Zimbabwe.