Guest speaker and former Attorney-General of Kenya, Prof. Githu has described the virtual proceeding as a new normal which would greatly develop the legal profession.
Github who made the description in support of the call fir paradigm shift in the virtual judicial age, said: “I think what this confirms is that this is the future, and we will never go back.
“The sooner we learn to practise around it, the better for us, and I think it is not only about the big law firms , city law firms, the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal.
“This is a new normal for every court, and I think it will make our profession better; it is a revolutionary movement in our profession, and we should embrace it,” he said.
Another guest speaker, Mrs Paula Hodges (Queens Counsel), said the world would not go back from virtual court proceedings. She described it is as a global form of dispute resolution.
She hoped that the process would be welcomed by all countries to help the judiciary. “Obviously, we all have got to learn, and we can get it right with the right preparation,” she said.
The Solicitor-General of the Federation, Mr Adedayo Akpata, said that the world had been constrained to adjust to the disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, including in administration of justice.
“What we need to do is to move with the tide, and in moving with the tide, we need to consider what the world sees as a pandemic as an opportunity for us to move forward,” he said.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief (Mrs) A.J Offiah, said that for the nation to keep fully abreast of virtual technology, there should be much sensitisation on the ‘new normal’ to make Nigerians to key into it.
According to her, there is also the need for policymakers to accept that things have changed and be disposed to changing along that line.
She suggested that the grundnorm (basic norm) as well as the Evidence Act should be “revisited” to reshape them to accommodate the virtual age.
“Our legal framework requires a total overhaul in this regard; for instance, during a trial when the court needs to conduct a visit to the “locus in quo”, we find that there is a question as to how such visit is to be conducted virtually.
“It then means we need to revisit our Evidence Act to ascertain how the legal framework can be changed in that regard,” she said.
Offiah also said that it would be important to overhaul registries, archives and other legal outlets to keep them in tune with the technology.
She added that although it might be difficult to “jump” into such technological sphere at a time, the will to achieve the goal would facilitate it.
Offiah also advocated training of judges, registrars and others on virtual court proceedings. he urged the NBA to take steps to train its members and others crucial to the process.
The Director of Public Sector Microsoft, Mr Damola Solanke, said that to achieve effective virtual court sessions, some modalities should be put in place.
“Judges and advocates should be given time to prepare for virtual proceedings so as to make the process seamless. Instructions should be passed before such sittings to serve as a guide on the process,” he said.
According to him, the procedure for such instructions should also be shared beforehand so that participants would be kept at alert to follow the process unhindered.
”Virtual proceedings are here to stay, and technology is the enabler. We need to adopt; there ought to be a lot of training and learning; we need to be open to that. Microsoft will be here to support the country and the justice industry,” he said.
The NBA 2020 AGC has about 25,000 registered delegates at the moment. Physical attendance at the conference is holding at both the Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos, and the NBA Headquarters in Abuja, with not more than 30 persons allowed at a time at each of the venues.
The conference is to showcase 30 sessions on topical issues.