SC signs cooperation pact with Australia Federal Court

By Benjamin Pulta

May 16, 2024, 4:02 pm

<p>Supreme Court of the Philippines <em>(PNA file photo by Yancy Lim)</em></p>

Supreme Court of the Philippines (PNA file photo by Yancy Lim)

MANILA – A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was entered by the Supreme Court of the Philippine (SCP) with the Federal Court of Australia (FCA) to promote judicial cooperation.

In a statement on Thursday, the SC said Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo and Chief Justice Debra Sue Mortimer signed the MOU on behalf of the SCP and FCA, respectively, during a hybrid signing ceremony held at the Session Hall of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on May 15, 2024.

The MOU, the second between the Philippine and Australian courts, enjoins both the SCP and the FCA to undertake programs for judicial cooperation to develop “a firm foundation for ongoing and future relations” and to promote a “deeper understanding of each other’s legal and judicial cultures, common international legal standards, regional development, and relevant emerging issues.”

Likewise, the MOU aims to enhance the SCP’s capacity to implement its judicial reform program in accordance with its Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022-2027 (SPJI).

Both parties agree that their areas of cooperation shall be identified and developed principally in accordance with the SPJI and the SCP’s strategic plan for 2028 onwards.

To manage and implement the MOU, the Chief Justices of the FCA and SCP shall endeavor to meet annually.

The SCP and FCA acknowledged that the implementation of projects and activities may involve a combination of Australian and Philippine expertise, and the coordination and cooperation arrangements of the SCP with other justice sector agencies, the central socio-economic planning agency, and other relevant agencies and organizations in the Philippines as required or warranted.

Chief Justice Gesmundo said the MOU signing formalized a “new phase” in the decades-old partnership between the Australian and the Philippine governments.

“[W]e cement a long-standing relation through new and innovative ways of bettering our court services and improving the quality of our justice service duty-bearers. This Memorandum of Understanding will cover an initial five-year period, and hopefully, will be renewed thereafter. But just for its initial year, we shall already commence with three groundbreaking initiatives: the first on Competition Law, the second on Multi-Party Litigation or Class Actions, and the third on Administrative Support Functions for our Regional Court Managers Program,” he said.

Gesmundo also expressed the SCP’s gratitude to the FCA, the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and all who are involved in making the MOU come to fruition.

FCA’s Chief Justice Mortimer echoed Gesmundo’s statement, saying the MOU, aside from formalizing “this long-existing relationship,” also recognized its strength.

She added that it signifies the FCA’s commitment to collaborate and strengthen its relationship with the SCP.

Dr. Moya Collett, Australian Embassy in the Philippines Deputy Head of Mission, who was at the En Banc Session Hall to witness the signing, said is looking forward to seeing an “increasing partnership between the governments of Australia and the Philippines.” (PNA)