– Acting Chancellor
Chancellor (ag) of the Judiciary, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, is convinced that there have been several notable improvements in the justice sector, including primarily an increase in the complement of judges.
Following her appointment in March 2017, Justice Cummings-Edwards on Tuesday said three judges were appointed to the Court of Appeal and another is soon to be appointed to the High Court.
The Acting Chancellor pointed out that these appointments were made based on recommendations by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), even though the life of the Commission came to an end in September 2017.
It was clarified that the interviews were conducted prior to the expiration of the JSC.
“Of course, it takes time for persons to fill the post, they may have to wrap up their respective jobs… and we have to make space to accommodate them in their respective offices. At least three of them [appointments] were delayed simply because of some logistical factors which had to be taken into account,” Justice Cummings-Edwards noted.
The opening of a new wing at the High Court in Georgetown was another noteworthy improvement for the judiciary since it now has five courtrooms, which accommodates the two Land Court judges, who were removed from their Brickdam, Georgetown location, where they were sharing space with the Public Service Appellate Tribunal.
The Acting Chancellor said space was insufficient, thus, the new wing at the High Court was a welcomed initiative.
She acknowledged that soon there may be a need for more space since the pace of litigation has increased.
At the Court of Appeal, three Justices of Appeal have been appointed and therefore additional accommodation will be necessary.
Justice Cummings-Edwards explained, “Monies were allocated for that, to accommodate additional courtrooms, a larger library, an office for the Judicial Service Commission”.
Both the Executive and Legislature were written to by the Acting Chancellor, requesting an increase in the complement of judges by four at the Court of Appeal.
With the proposed extension to that Court, at any given time there can be two panels of judges sitting, she posited.
“For a full bench, you need three judges at a minimum so if we have nine you can have two panels with three judges sitting on each at minimum determining the case. In that way, we will be tackling many matters per day, per week during a given period which the court sits.”
This, it was highlighted, will contribute to the reduction in existing backlogged cases.
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