National Assembly Opposes Sole Judge Court Proceedings

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The National Assembly has voiced their opinion, opposing just one solitary judge presiding over court cases, big or small.

During the ongoing NA session on Wednesday, National Assembly members declared their stance at the debate on the amendment, emphasizing that having a solitary judge overseeing a case is an easy path to unjustified judgments.

The draft amendment stipulates that only one judge is required to sit for deliberation on small cases – those cases relating to minor economic value or cases in which the plaintiff or defendant pleads guilty – however, the draft does not stipulate what constitutes a “small” case.

Assembly member for Phongsaly province, Mr Chansy Sengsomphou, declared that he would like a minimum of three to five judges to sit in court, with a maximum of five to seven judges.

“To ensure this theory complies with the actual circumstances, I would like many parties to participate in the process, to give their views and opinions so this will be more scientific and there will be clear translations of the law and the issues,” he stated.

Mr Chansy reminded participants in the debate, that mistakes have occurred in past judgments and court rulings, while insufficient personnel has been claimed by the sector as the cause for these decisions every time.

To prevent loopholes from being created by other officials, National Assembly member for Vientiane province, Ms Buavanh Thammavong, asked for clarification on what was considered a “small case”.

She was also in full support of Mr Chansy’s notion of collective decision making, agreeing that the current number of personnel was inadequate and suggesting that number should increase as personnel development continues.

An Assembly member for Oudomxay province, Mr Khamsaphon Xayavong, stated that he wanted the entire components of the court to be in place for any lawsuits, regardless of being ‘big’ or ‘small’.

He explained that people would be uncertain as to which cases would be classified as small, pointing out that even though three judges have sat for previous lawsuits, rulings were still sometimes in doubt.

“A single judge will bring public criticism and will cause people to distrust the justice system,” he said, adding “I propose that we remove this stipulation, which allows a single judge, from this law.”

NA member for Attapeu province, Mr Leth Xayaphone, spoke about the development of the law and regulations to facilitate the justice process and ensure justice for all parties.

However, he added that the new stipulation that allows a solitary judge, was against the concept of collective decision making and other principles of trial procedures.

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