Oct 17, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, is in support of a notion to make the recently launched judicial code of ethics public so that citizens can help to ensure that officials of the court act responsibly in the conduct of their duties.
The judiciary launched its revised code of ethics for judicial officers earlier this month to, among other things, ensure integrity, impartiality and independence in upholding the Rule of Law.
During last Tuesday’s episode of his social media commentary “Issues in the News,” the Attorney General (AG) noted that while the move to implement a revised code of conduct is laudable, there are still issues with judges obeying the Law as it relates to the prescribed time limit for the handing down of written decisions.
The AG explained that the law requires judges to give decisions in writing within four months of the determination of a case or the end of a trial. However, Nandlall noted, “The law is not being complied with…I talk to people in the streets and they tell you how long they are waiting…I have no control over the pace at which the judiciary works and the most I can do is what I’m doing now, calling for compliance with the laws of the land.”
Nandlall stressed, nevertheless, that since judges are part of the system that punishes people who break the laws, it is a reasonable expectation that they comply with the laws that govern the judiciary in full. “Those [four] months to deliver a decision is a matter of law and while it’s good passing the code of ethics, they also must comply with the law. They [judges] must ensure there is compliance with the time limit for judicial decisions,” the AG said during his programme.
He added, “Unless the law is appealed, rescinded, or revoked, it is the law and must be complied with.” In 2009, the Guyana Parliament passed a legislation making it compulsory for judges to deliver their written or oral decisions within 120 days after the conclusion of the matters.
The legislation was introduced to give judges a prescribed timeline for delivery of decisions, in wake of a culture of delay which has hampered the effectiveness of the Judiciary.
The Judicial Time Limit Act of 2009 made provision for, inter alia, penalty for judges who continuously breach the law, of which the ultimate sanction is removal from office.
However, this was not enough to motivate some high-ranking members of the judiciary to deliver their decisions on time. Some have retired and others promoted to senior positions without handing down their decisions in time.
Hundreds of court cases are still languishing in the judiciary without a decision either in oral or written form. In recent years, the local judiciary has drawn criticisms from the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) for the lengthy delays in delivering judgments and for clearly contravening the Time Limit for Decisions Act 2009.
The failure by both Justices of the High Court and the Court of Appeal to give judgments on time has significantly hindered the delivery of justice as well as the efficacy of the judiciary, especially when compared to other courts in the region, particularly the CCJ which publishes judgments on its website within minutes after matters are concluded.
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