The court recently issued a circular instructing all cases where any party involved is not present to be stood down for a period of time to be called again. The reason being, to give time for any party who might be late due to any inevitable circumstances.
This morning, while I was in court with many other learned friends, we could see from the empty public gallery that none of the defendants or debtors are present. Nevertheless, the court started calling the cases and when the court was informed of the absence of the defendant, all our cases are stood down. After one big round of standing down all our cases, the interpreter tirelessly called up the cases again from the top of the list.
What a waste of sorry time!
This circular came about, I guess, after I JID’d (well, technically, it was the judge that has entered the judgment against him, anyway…) a defendant who claimed he was in court the other day!
It happened that day when the SAR was sitting in place of the Magistrate who were on leave that day. Instead of calling the cases in open court, all the JID matters were conducted in chambers. So when my case was called, the interpreter called out to the public gallery, the name of so-and-so. No one responded, so I proceeded into the chamber and asked for a judgment in default of appearance which was granted.
Half way back to the office, I was called by the Firm’s staff to return to the Magistrates Court. I walked back to the court, and was informed by the court interpreter that the Defendant has insisted for the case to be called again. At that point of time, a judgment has been entered, so I explained to him that unless the sitting judge willing to get back on his judgment I can’t do anything about the JID against him. Of course, the guy was furious, but the SAR refused to rehear the case so I advised him to engage another lawyer to set aside the judgment if he feels that the judgment has been wrongly entered. (he told me he planned to admit the claim anyway)
Then the following week, I was informed that the court set another date to rehear his case, apparently, he had complained of the matter up to Kuching High Court! And then this court circular came about!
Fact is, I fit the court circular ridiculous. As long as the debtor/defendant is duly served (or deemed duly served), why should we give time to the late/absent defendants? If they were late due to any good reason, however inevitable, they could still apply to the court to have the judgment set aside. Why should the plaintiff/plaintiff’s solicitors be deprived of precious time, just to wait for a debtor/defendant who might or might not show up? As long as the name is called out and there were no respond from the public gallery, he/she is already in default of appearance. Simple as that!
This morning there were not many cases, imagine there were 200 over debt cases (most of them are JID), the court is expected to call all the cases one time then only come back to enter judgment? That’s not efficient!