Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 14, 2017 (SKNIS): Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC), Dame Janice Pereira, has commended the Team Unity Administration for its efforts and commitment in the historic opening of a second court room at the Sir Lee L. Moore Judicial and Legal Complex on March 13 that will enable the expedition of justice in a more efficient manner.
In her opening remarks at a special sitting of the ECSC to mark the opening of a second court room in Basseterre, St. Kitts, Chief Justice Pereira said that it gave her great pleasure "as we mark the occasion of the commencement of a second court facility which will improve the judicial service in the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis."
"Discussions for a second fully operational second started some time ago and today we are witnessing the fulfillment of a commitment made by the Executive in its efforts to provide facilities for the purpose of enabling the judiciary to fulfill its mandate for providing a system of justice that is fair, efficient and accountable for our people," she said.
"I take this opportunity to recognize the Government of Saint Christopher and Nevis and the efforts they have made to make this commitment a reality. To my mind, it demonstrates clear appreciation of the value and importance of a well-functioning judicial branch. A strong and vibrant judiciary forms the bedrock of or democracies and indeed our economies," the chief justice said.
"In my address at the commencement of this current law year, I spoke of the many constraints and other factors which impact either positively or adversely on access to justice. I made the point that access to justice also requires the provision of adequate facilities and personnel, which will enhance the ability to more quickly undertake the hearing of criminal matters as well as civil matters," Chief Justice Pereira added.
She noted that with the provision of the second court facility "the people of St. Christopher, in particular, will be able to enjoy year round criminal sessions as well as year round civil sessions as both high courts will be operating on the same legal calendar."
She also indicated that "an additional judicial officer will shortly be assigned to conduct trials and other hearings in the new facility" while pointing out that the modern model second court room is ready for business.
"Additionally, I am assured that all necessary staffing and court equipment are actually in place, thus to all intents and purposes, this new additional court facility is ready for business complete with all equipment for the use of modern technology, including hearings by video and teleconference. In every respect, it is intended to be a model, modern court," she said.
Chief Justice Pereira commended Attorney General, the Honourable Vincent Byron, for seeing the project come to fruition.
"I am constrained to make special mention of the Honourable Attorney General, Mr. Honourable Vincent Byron, who has worked tirelessly in seemingly himself attending to every minute detail and for keeping fully abreast of the progress of works. We thank you honourable attorney general," she said, while expressing the hope that the new court facility will be fully utilized.
"It is my hope that all stakeholders, the public bar and the private bar, will all embrace this effort and make full use of this additional court for it is only by so doing that the people will derive the real benefit of this measure. I am happy to see this step and I firmly believe that it will make a positive impact on access to justice within the federation. This in turn can only boost confidence in the judicial system as a whole," she said.
Chief Justice Pereira also mentioned that "there are other steps that I have been made aware are on the way for the registry to become truly functional as a court office separate and apart from the Registry of Deeds and Conveyances."
"These are welcome and positive steps that should lead to greater efficiency in both spheres," she said, while making reference to mediation as "part of the tools that the courts use for improving the efficiency within our courts." She said that she hopes that mediation will be "revitalized".
"The honourable attorney general also has made indications that the plan is to have a fully functional mediation center. I recently indicated that it is no short view that one of the very powerful tools, which is enshrined in our civil procedure rules, is the idea that we must assist parties to settle their matters in a manner that is fair and just to both sides and so the court will be making very much here in the federation a push to regain that ground in respect of the mediation services afforded by the court.
"All these steps have my full support and I look forward to continued collaboration as we continue to implement measures for greater efficiency and accountability and in so doing improve the quality of access to justice overall for the people of this federation," Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira said.