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Justice Ministry drives major legal reforms and judicial modernisation in Sri Lanka

June 18, Colombo (LNW): The Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Ministry has achieved substantial advancements in legal reforms, marking a period of prolific legislative activity over the past two years.

Secretary to the Ministry M.N. Ranasinghe highlighted the enactment of 59 legal reforms since 2022, with an additional 7 draft laws and 44 legal amendments pending approval in Parliament.

Speaking at the Presidential Media Centre on Monday (June 17), Ranasinghe underscored the ministry’s pivotal role in drafting laws across various sectors.

In detail, Parliament passed 29 reforms in 2022, followed by 17 in 2023 and 13 so far in 2024.

The Department of Legal Draftsman played a crucial role by preparing 273 draft laws in 2022 and 299 in 2023, encompassing all three official languages for other ministries.

Efforts towards modernising the judicial system were also highlighted, with significant strides made in digitisation to address delays in legal proceedings.

Notably, the number of Supreme Court judges was increased by 14 after 42 years, accompanied by recruitment of 76 judicial officers and promotion of 34 individuals to High Court Judges.

This expansion facilitated the establishment of new courts and increased capacity in existing ones, including the introduction of digitisation in the Supreme Court to enhance accessibility for citizens and legal professionals.

Furthermore, initiatives aimed at improving the Ease of Doing Business Index included the establishment of four Commercial High Courts in the Western Province to handle commercial disputes, with plans for additional courts underway.

The ministry is also advancing legal reforms to support the Port City project, including the creation of an investment court to expedite resolution of investor disputes.

Moreover, the introduction of Small Claims Courts in 2022 for speedy resolution of financial disputes up to Rs. 2 million has proven effective, with courts operational in Colombo, Kandy, and Matale, and plans for expansion to other regions underway.

In response to recommendations from the Judicial Zoning Committee, new courts have been established in various locations, including a tourism court in Morawewa, with further expansions planned.

Additionally, measures to strengthen alternative dispute resolution mechanisms have bolstered Sri Lanka’s dispute settlement rate, which stands at nearly 70%, earning international acclaim.

Legislatively, the introduction of Bills such as the Anti-Corruption Bill and amendments to drug possession penalties reflect ongoing efforts to enhance legal frameworks and governance.

The Ministry remains committed to advancing these reforms to foster a more efficient and accessible justice system, vital for supporting economic growth and investment in Sri Lanka.

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