From left to right: Imas Imthiyaz (Member/ Colombo Law Library), Tharindu Rajakaruna ( Member/ Colombo Law Library), Thiwanka Ekaratna (Member / Colombo Law Library), Shivan Coorey (Secretary/Colombo Law Library), Rohan Fernando (SLT Group Chairman), Lalith Seneviratne (SLT Group CEO), Kiththi Perera (CEO/SLT), Priyantha Fernandez (COO/SLT),
Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) has extended their expertise to the Commercial High Courts of Sri Lanka with the introduction of a new Virtual Hearing Solution. The new online platform was developed by Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) in partnership with the Colombo Law Library.
This new online platform is to ensure that Courts continue functioning unhindered by COVID-19 or any other similar crisis in the future. The online system will function as a 'virtual courthouse,' and will permit cases to be heard remotely with the use of Video Conferencing technology, minimizing the number of people frequenting courthouses.
The Virtual Hearing Solution will have separate interfaces for judges and lawyers. It has been developed as a user friendly package ensuring that the practice followed in court houses is aptly digitized, giving lawyers an easy transition from the present routine at court.
Upon registration, lawyers will be presented options to enter a Virtual Court Room of Choice that leads to a Video Conference Interface with the Judges of the respective courts, which will be visible to all. When a case is called, Counsels related to the case will then be permitted to present themselves on video and audio to the Judge to make their case. Permitted Attendees are also allowed to join the hearing to view and listen to the court proceedings. A broadcast of the same will also be made available to the public if required.
The Virtual Hearing Solution facilitates Smart Scheduling, Identity and Access Management for Authentication and E-notices (Before the Hearing); Video conferencing, recording and document uploads (During the Hearing); and Transcript Access and Case Status Updates (After the Hearing), thus ensuring that all aspects of case hearings are catered to. While a wide screen will be fixed in a designated chamber for the use of judges, lawyers will be able to log in and join the virtual hearings from either their mobiles or laptops from remote locations where a fixed or mobile connection is available. It would also improve judicial services by improving efficiency, transparency, effective analysis and inter-agency integration. The Commercial High Courts of Sri Lanka will first consider introducing this solution to their Calling Dates Cases as a pilot project.
The handing over ceremony of the Virtual Hearing System to the High Court took place recently and was graced by SLT’s Group Chairman, Mr. Rohan Fernando, Group CEO, Mr. Lalith Seneviratne, CEO, Mr. Kiththi Perera, COO, Mr. Priyantha Fernandez and Mr. Shivan Coorey, Secretary, Colombo Law Library.
Addressing the audience, Colombo Law Library Secretary Mr. Shivan Coorey said, “When COVID-19 struck Sri Lanka in March, 2020, we were forced to think outside the box. We knew that the solution had to be IT based, we knew of other countries running on IT based platforms but we never knew that it could be a reality for us. Upon meeting with the head and management of SLT I realized that there is some hope. A way out. The Colombo Law Library approached SLT asking for assistance and they, without any hesitation or a price, in the interest of humanity, helped us. It is high time that we get together and see that change takes place, not only securing our safety from health hazards but much more – cost saving, efficiency and we will be on par with the more developed jurisdictions. This might be an eye opener in some way to all of us. Firstly, to make a change. Secondly, to realize that Sri Lanka CAN. Thirdly, that any challenge can be overcome with positive attitudes.”
Sharing his view on the partnership, the Group Chairman of SLT Mr. Rohan Fernando said “We are truly humbled by the opportunity to equip the High Courts of Sri Lanka with our new Virtual Hearing Solution. We understand the necessity for ensuring that contact between people is minimized as the country gets accustomed to living in this age of social distancing. We recognized the need to enable the judicial department to deliver its services effectively and the public to access these services without difficulty. As the telecommunication service provider to the nation, we felt it was our duty to provide a solution to this dilemma and we hope this facilitates a smoother, minimal risk platform for the High Courts.”
SLT has recognized the need to protect the safety of those engaged with the judicial system of the country and facilitated this Virtual Hearing System in an aim to minimize risk, putting Sri Lanka on the path towards an automated judicial system.