Government Allows English Language for Legal Proceedings in Certain Courts

February 21, 2024

In a move aimed at streamlining legal proceedings and reducing the burden of translation costs and time, the Government of Sri Lanka has announced that the English language will be permitted for conducting legal proceedings and maintaining records in certain courts.

The decision stems from the recognition that in the sphere of commerce, particularly concerning commercial activities, English is predominantly used. However, translating these contents into Sinhala incurs significant costs and time, consequently prolonging the settlement of commercial disputes. This delay has been noted to disadvantage entrepreneurs and adversely impact Sri Lanka's position in global Ease of Doing Business ratings, which assess a country's conduciveness to business operations.

Addressing these challenges, the Government has deemed it appropriate to authorize the use of the English language in recognized courts and legal records and proceedings, as specified under statute 24 (4) of the Constitution. The move aims to facilitate smoother legal processes and enhance the country's business environment.

The Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs, and Constitutional Reforms submitted a proposal to the Cabinet of Ministers, which has been approved. The approval grants authorization for the necessary actions to be taken to implement the use of English in legal proceedings in recognized courts and related records.