Dec 24, 2018 News
The appointment of Judges and Magistrates, the implementation of night courts and the use of mediation were some of the measures implemented to deal with the decades old backlog of cases in the judiciary.
As of early 2017, there was a case backlog of over 10,000, and according to Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, that number has been decreased to approximately 4, 500.
From the budgetary allocations for the Ministry of Legal Affairs, some $20M has been set aside for the implementation of a case management system aimed at further reducing the backlog.
In his budget speech, the Attorney General had said, “Studies have shown that implementing Case Management Technologies in the Justice Sector resulted in seven percent average rate of decrease of old civil, criminal and juvenile backlog, additionally, it resulted in a 15percent productivity in the public sector.”
The case management system network will allow key justice institutions to share information and access live data. This network will connect probation services, the Magistrate’s Courts, legal aid, restorative justice, interlink with the High Court, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and police prosecutors, and interlink with the Prison Service.
In February, acting Chancellor of the Judiciary Yonette Cummings-Edwards confirmed the significant decrease in the case backlog. She had said that the cases still in the system include those for divorce, civil and Full Court matters.
During a visit to Guyana in January of 2017, John Clifford Wallace, United States Court of Appeals Senior Judge and Chief Judge Emeritus, had stressed the need for the implementation of a case management system and for mediation to be increased.
Specifically, Judge Wallace had emphasized on Rules 25 and 26 of the New Civil Procedure Rules 2016 which deals with Case Management and Mediation respectively. The US Judge had pointed out that an important part of case management is sorting case files in getting them ready for trial.
He had stated that case management allows the pace of litigation to be decided by the judge and not the attorneys.
The Chief Judge Emeritus had 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.
Then, Wallace had 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.”
Under the New Civil Procedure Rule there are Fixed Date Applications and Statement of Claim Matters.
The practice currently being adopted by the High Court is that the Judge will set a timeline for hearing matters. The Judges would usually set a date for the plaintiff to file arguments, then for the defence to file a response. The Judges will thereafter set a date for evidence to be submitted and for arguments to be heard, followed by a date for ruling.
For 2017, 2,063 Fixed Date Applications were filed, of which 1, 452 were completed, while 440 Statement of Claim matters were filed, of which 54 were completed.
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