Jan 22, 2017 News
– Visiting US Senior Judge
By Feona Morrison
With a backlog of over 10,000 High Court cases, the proper use of case management techniques and increased mediation, specifically for civil cases, will lead to a significant reduction.
This is according to 88-year-old John Clifford Wallace, United States Court of Appeals Senior Judge and Chief Judge Emeritus.
Judge Wallace was invited to Guyana by Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Carl Singh.
It is Wallace’s deep interest in developing strong judicial systems around the world that has brought him to Guyana. He has travelled to over 50 countries, and has been on every continent. Among the territories he has visited is Botswana, where he familiarised himself with various court systems and shared his expertise. During his visit to Guyana, Judge Wallace has been engaged in talks with several members of the judiciary.
In an interview with Kaieteur News last Friday, Judge Wallace stressed the need for the use of case management techniques and mediation in getting rid of the exising heavy case build-up.
Judges, Magistrates and lawyers are currently undergoing training on the New Civil Procedure Rules 2016 for the Supreme Court. This was tabled in the National Assembly last year November by Attorney General Basil Williams.
The New Civil Procedure Rules have been brought in line with similar rules in the Caribbean. The Rules and legal forms span 187 pages and contain procedures for the settlement of civil matters and making payments both in and out of court. The Rules are expected to reduce clogging of courts by matters that could be settled.
Specifically, Judge Wallace emphasized on Rules 25 and 26 of the New Civil Procedure Rules which deal with Case Management and Mediation respectively.
He noted that mediation is not second class justice, but in fact a very good way for the disposal of cases. He added that it allows a trained mediator to work with parties involved in a case to bring them to a place where they are best satisfied.
Pointing out that mediation has been a part of the US court system for over 50 years, he explained, “It gives the parties an opportunity to be involved in the settlement of their case. If they can’t settle it that’s fine, but we (Guyana) have to move it up from negligible to something that is substantial.”
He revealed that 90 percent of cases (civil and criminal) in the US are mediated.
“We (US) only try 10 percent of the cases. In Botswana it is the opposite. (They) probably try 90 percent of the cases and settle 10 percent. So you are asking your judges to work almost 10 times harder than we do in the United States.”
Mediation will enable judges to handle the workload in a prompt way, Judge Wallace said.
He emphasized that this form of resolution will bring cases to a conclusion quickly; compared to years they are taking presently.
The Senior Judge continued, “In Mediation we teach the mediator a different way of mediating. It is called ‘win win mediation’ and what these trained mediators do is not talk about the problem that brought them (parties involved) to court, but about their history”.
“You don’t sue strangers. There is always a history and at one time they were good friends, business partners…or whatever. And what the ‘win win mediation’ does it get them back to their original relationship and to help them to solve their problems. That’s why it is so powerful…people walk out of the court friends again.”
An important part of case management, the Judge highlighted is sorting case files in getting them ready for trial. He recalled, “What we found out in our experience in Botswana is that very often somebody has died or their lawyer has gone away. The case is just sitting there…dead for years. What the judge does is move out those cases and then set the others for trial…but goes through the process of quickly identifying what is necessary.”
He stated that case management allows the pace of litigation to be decided by the judge and not the attorneys. Wallace complimented Guyana on having a very good judiciary and “fine” Bar Association. “You have a very good judiciary here. You have a fine bar association. You just need a different way of doing things.”
The Chief Judge Emeritus explained that in case management every Judge will be assigned to a certain number of cases and also be responsible for everything that deals with that case until it is completed.
This method, he said, was applied in Botswana which had a backlog twice in number, and within two years, 80 percent of the cases were completed. He is confident that these methods once adapted will bring relief to the backlog in cases at the High Court.
In the case of Guyana, the Judge calculated that if the 10,000 cases were to be divided among our 13 High Court judges, each judge will be mandated to about 770 cases. He pointed out that this number might seem a lot, but in Botswana, which has a similar number of High Court judges, each judge was assigned to 1800 cases.
Judge Wallace made reference to Guyana and other countries inheriting the British method, which he says, works very fine. However, he pointed out that it is not effective in dealing with backlogs.
The Senior Judge also disclosed that Britain has changed its court system. He said that other countries that have come out of the British regime are still making modifications.
The only savior of Guyana.
Oct 02, 2023Kaieteur Sports – The Andrew Lewis National Novice Boxing Championship continued its riveting action on Saturday at the National Gymnasium, located along Mandela Avenue. Day Two showcased the...
Oct 02, 2023
Oct 02, 2023
Oct 02, 2023
Oct 01, 2023
Oct 01, 2023
By Sir Ronald Sanders (The writer is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States and the Organization of American... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.