LAW YEAR 2011 – 2012 OPENS AT HIGH COURT

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By admin September 23, 2011 09:21

LAW YEAR 2011 – 2012 OPENS AT HIGH COURT

Resident High Court Judge in Anguilla, Justice Louise Brenman, told the opening ceremony for Law Year 2011-2012, that the justice system on the island was working extremely well.

 


Lawyer Josephine Gumbs-Connor
Lawyer Josephine Gumbs-Connor

“The administration of the law and the rule of the law, have been maintained and specifically so at a very high level,” she continued. “In fact, there is no matter that gives me cause for concern in relation to the justice system.” She noted, however, that there was always room for improvement.

She was pleased with the support that the court had received over the past year from the Governor, Deputy Governor, Chief Minister and the Department ofPublic Administration, and she hoped that this would continue over the new law term.


Attorney General James Wood
Attorney General James Wood

She stated that the court had also received tremendous and unswerving support from both the public and the private Bar and commended them highly for that. “This has served to ensure that the litigants received a very good quality of justice in Anguilla…I had cause to publicly commend the Anguilla Bar at a conference that was convened by the Judicial Education Institute which I chair in collaboration with the OECS Bar Association. There were issues that were brought up that bedeviled other Bars [but] I was very happy to say not so in Anguilla. These were things that were unheard of.”

Justice Brenman reported that the court was continuing to receive tremendous support from the Registrar and the court staff, an excellent group of people, an important part of the justice system in Anguilla. She also praised the Commissioner of Police, Rudolph Proctor, and his colleagues for their support and security services.


Justice Louise Blenman
Justice Louise Blenman

She said that there had been several reforms, that had been led by Chief Justice Hugh Rawlins, aimed at improving the administration of justice both in Anguilla and in the wider OECS. These included the appointment of a third Master. This would have the effect of reducing the work load of the two Masters and would therefore free up the judicial officers to do more trial matters. In addition, there had been amendments to rules and introduction of directions aimed at ensuring that some of the difficulties experienced over the last ten years would be dealt with. In so doing, the Chief Justice took on board all of the suggestions that came from the constituent Bars. As a result it was hoped, among other things, that matters being dealt with would be handled more expeditiously in the court system.

Justice Blenman said she was looking forward to the continued cooperation of the public and the private Bar as far as civil matters were concerned.

On the criminal side, she commended the lawyers in the private Bar who, in the absence of a system of legal aid, had come forward to do pro bona work. She was happy to report that many members of the Bar in Anguilla had been generously giving their service free of charge to persons needing legal assistance but could not pay for it. She also commended the Attorney General and other Crown lawyers for their work.


Chief Justice Hugh Rawlins
Chief Justice Hugh Rawlins

Justice Blenman reported that the Chief Justice had introduced a system of year-round criminal assizes rather than having them for three or four months in the islands. She was of the view that this could not be implemented in Anguilla at this time based on matters coming before the court which are taking a lot of time. She stated that Anguilla was a lovely jurisdiction, without having as much crime as other jurisdictions, but there was a need to ensure that when persons appeared before the court they would get proper justice and not rushed.

The Judge said that the Judicial Education Institute was continuing to provide legal training for Judges, Masters, Registrars and Magistrates and was very happy to have collaborated with the Bar. “Looking at what we are doing, I want to commend the Bar and the people of Anguilla for the support that they continue to give to me,” she added. “It is a tremendous pleasure working and serving the people of Anguilla. I thoroughly enjoy it. They are all equal partners and equal stakeholders in the justice system.”

Responding, Attorney General, James Wood, said that he was keen to develop a Code for Prosecutors. Among other matters, it would take into account whether a prosecution should be initiated, or continued or to accept a plea to a lesser offence. He reported that the Civil Procedure Rules would come into force soon, following consultations in the OECS territories.

Mr. Wood stated that the new practice directions, issued by the Chief Justice, would put the Courts in a far better position to embrace technological changes by prescribing methods for serving Claim Forms and filing draft orders. He said further that the Courts would also be in a position to set out the procedures for other types of processes including oral examination in aid of enforcement and the production of skeleton arguments. He hoped that the new Law Year would see notable developments and progress.

Vice President of the Anguilla Bar Association, Josephine Gumbs-Connor, said the opening of a new law term was always a time for re-committing and re-conforming to the principles of the legal profession. She noted that the new and improved rules would come into force in the courtin October, and said that members of the Bar would try to become absorbed very quickly and to group themselves into the operation of those new rules.

She noted that the Court had explained that the new rules would provide further efficiencies in its operations, but that the Bar was grateful to Justice Blenman for the efficiencies that she had already brought to the Anguilla jurisdiction. She thought that the Judge had certainly left her mark already insofar as making the Court function by tweaking those initiatives so that lawyers were able to practice in a smoother way and to anticipate what were the requirements of the Court.

Among other matters, the Vice President of the Bar expressed appreciation for the concept of mediation. She made the point that lawyers were talking to each other more and likewise they were encouraging their clients to talk to each other. She thought that in an adversarial system it helped to reduce antagonism and promoted a situation in which clients could make their input and feel that they were active participants in the court system.

A feature of the opening of the Law Year, in all the jurisdictions of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, was the annual address by Chief Justice, Hugh Rawlins. He spoke in a simulcast from Antigua, where the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal is in session.

One of the matters about which he spoke was the Court’s undertaking to construct new state-of-the-art judicial complexes in the islands served by the Court. He said that the Regional Projects Steering Committee, which advised the Chief Justice, had already studied elements of the budget and the proposed building sites in all the territories. He reported that a Trinidadian firmhad submitted a draft feasibility report detailing schematic drawings and layout of three types of buildings. He expressed appreciation to the Caribbean Development Bank for the assistance it had provided so far.

Other matters on which the Chief Justice spoke included a decision for the integration of the magistracy into the judiciary. “The next steps will include the ratification of those agreements, by the Cabinet of each member state or territory, followed by the enactment of the necessary legislation to bring the agreements into effect,” he said.

The Chief Justice observed that the Court was continuing the process of reviewing and evaluating the Criminal Division and was working closely with those concerned to ensure that issues which arose were effectively addressed. He reported that the process was already working well in St. Lucia; was now being introduced in other islands like Grenada, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and that a presiding Judge had been appointed in each of the territories to oversee the activities.

He said that during the course of the year discussions and consultations on amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules had been concluded. “The initiative to amend the Civil Procedure Rules 2000 will culminate in the promulgation of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Amendment Rules 2011, and a number of practice directions,” the Chief Justice stated. “The practice directions are intended to flesh out the rules. It is important to note that updating and amending the rules to facilitate civil practice, is a work which is ongoing even after I have departed this present office. The amended rules and practice directions will come into effect in all of the islands on 1st October, 2011.”

The Chief Justice spoke on a number of other matters regarding the functioning of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. A copy of his address was not immediately available to press.
During the Court sitting, Justice Blenman, Attorney General, Mr. Wood andVice President of the Bar, Josephine Gumbs-Connor, took the opportunity to pay glowing tribute to the late Dame Bernice Lake for her notable contribution to jurisprudence and the proud legacy she had left for all. Chief Justice Rawlins and the OECS Bar Association also joined in the tributes.

admin
By admin September 23, 2011 09:21

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