The ba­sis for im­prov­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice ex­ists

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This causes great suf­fer­ings.

In­deed, it is be­cause the great lag in time that is so preva­lent that some un­scrupu­lous peo­ple use the Courts as a de­lay­ing mech­a­nism to per­pet­u­ate wrongs and ad­van­tages in the so­ci­ety. Even this regime, I be­lieve is guilty of this prac­tice.

The law that was passed was never in­tended to be a means for the ex­ec­u­tive to ad­min­is­trate the ju­di­ciary. It was for the ju­di­ciary it­self to have the tools to en­sure that these prac­tices are put to an end so that jus­tice could be de­liv­ered in a timely fash­ion.

Un­for­tu­nately, that is still not hap­pen­ing. The ju­di­ciary, it ap­pears, is still largely not de­liv­er­ing timely de­ci­sions.

As a re­sult, it is hav­ing an im­pact on our econ­omy. Take for in­stance, the case of the sixty farm­ers at Seafield, West Coast Ber­bice. Their land leases were re­voked by this govern­ment by force and the farm­ers were evicted from the fields. This was a most un­law­ful and vin­dic­tive act on the part of the regime.

They went to Court and the mat­ter took a long time. In­deed, two sets of farm­ers were af­fected in iden­ti­cal ways and the cases were heard by two dif­fer­ent judges, one judge ruled even­tu­ally in their favour. The other judge is still to give a rul­ing.

In the mean­time, the gov- ern­ment has ap­pealed the one case where a de­ci­sion was made. Most likely to de­lay and to pun­ish the farm­ers. That ap­peal is yet to be heard.

Mean­while, the lands are idle. Farm­ers, and their fam­i­lies, are suf­fer­ing se­ri­ous loss of in­come. The coun­try is suf­fer­ing due to fall in in­come, pur­chas­ing power and loss of tax rev­enues. Pro­duc­tion is, there­fore, down

Sir By­ron made sev­eral sug­ges­tions to as­sist in some of these cases. He spoke about the use of tech­nol­ogy to sur­mount these is­sues.

Of course, he did not know of the ef­forts of the PPP/C ad­min­is­tra­tion in this area.

In one project, this was pro­posed and was be­ing funded. Equip­ment was bought to record and tran­scribe texts. In that pe­riod it did not come into ef­fect be­cause the Ju­di­cial ad­min­is­tra­tion felt that it could not be sus­tained. Much time was lost.

It was re­vis­ited again dur­ing the 2011 to 2015 pe­riod. This time, more equip­ment was brought for three Courts to be used as a pi­lot project. The govern­ment trained twenty per­sons to op­er­ate and main­tain the equip­ment.

The idea here was to have ev­i­dence recorded and tran­scribed in less than twenty-four hours. That would have ended the prac­tice of judges hav­ing to write ver­ba­tim ev­i­dence taken in Court. It would have saved much time and money of poor peo­ple.

Un­for­tu­nately, dis­agree­ments arose as to who should em­ploy the staff. One view was the Ju­di­cial Ser­vice Com­mis­sion wanted that role. The Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion (PSC) ob­jected, point­ing out that the rest of the staff were PSC ap­point­ments.

At the same time, the ad­min­is­tra­tion was fo­cused on try­ing to over­come the re­sis­tance to the at­tacks of the APNU and AFC op­po­si­tion to the Anti- Money Laun­der­ing Bill, the Amaila Falls Hy­dro Project among other things.

As a re­sult, the mat­ter was not re­solved in time.

Sir By­ron also spoke about the need for e-fil­ing; I am sur­prised at that.

I am aware that the PPP/C ad­min­is­tra­tion had em­ploy four con­sul­tants to de­sign such a sys­tem. Equip­ment was pro­cured and set up to al­low that to func­tion.

The idea here was to stop the prac­tice where files and doc­u­ments were dis­ap­pear­ing and cases af­fected by that. A lot of in­jus­tice took place due to that prac­tice.

If the e-fil­ing sys­tem is not op­er­a­tional now, then that should be in­ves­ti­gated and cor­rected now.

I am not a lawyer and I con­fess that I do not know the de­tailed day- to-day op­er­a­tions of the Courts. How­ever, I am aware of two no­table ex­cep­tions, as far as writ­ing de­ci­sions is con­cerned.

For­mer Chief Jus­tice (ag,) Ian Chang, and for­mer Ap­peal Court Judge, Charles Ram­son, dis­tin­guished them­selves in this area. They were prompt in writ­ing up their de­ci­sions. That saved the state, the per­sons involved and the Courts money and time.

They may have been more such judges, but I am not aware of them. I, there­fore, stand to be cor­rected here.

I have also no­ticed that the present Chief Jus­tice (ag), Ms. Rox­anne Ge­orge, is also prompt in giv­ing her de­ci­sions in writ­ing. This is a pos­i­tive sign and I hope she will con­tinue do­ing so.

In con­clu­sion, I would say that the foun­da­tion for deal­ing with the is­sues raised by Sir Den­nis By­ron ex­ists. Suc­ces­sive PPP/C ad­min­is­tra­tions have laid a solid foun­da­tion that should be de­vel­oped and built upon.

The sit­u­a­tion must not be al­lowed to ret­rogress as is hap­pen­ing in the econ­omy. On the con­trary, it should be im­proved.

This is very vi­tal for the so­cial and economic progress of our coun­try.

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