On this day, September 01, 2011, the day of your installation as Chief Justice, we congratulate you on your swearing in and we thank you sincerely for having accepted the appointment.
The timely administration and delivery of justice in Barbados has long been one of the primary concerns with the BU family. For too long, the Charter of Magna Carta (that celebrates its 800th Anniversary in 2015) has been flouted and ignored in Barbados. A Charter that clearly postulates that justice delayed is justice denied.
We have read your comments courtesy of the Fourth Estate and we ourselves have been linked to the New York Times blog in connection with your appointment. We are hopeful and optimistic that you are exactly the right man for the job of re-delivering Justice to Barbados.
However, my lord, we also realise that this is not a task in which you can succeed on your own. You will require the support and cooperation of the judiciary, the Bar, the Registry and the People. Last, but by no means least, Government will have to provide you with the tools to do the job, whether it be budget, the setting up of Royal Commissions to deal with unsatisfactory, incompetent or recalcitrant judges or, most importantly, having the courage and resolve to provide its backing (without political or personal bi-partisanship) to support your efforts. We urge everyone, especially Government (by both and whichever political parties) to give you full support.
Clearly we do not have enough judges and hopefully the budget will be forthcoming for you to be enabled to appoint more, in consultation with those who need to consult. Hopefully, these will include senior and experienced members of the Bar, rather than those elevated from the very systems that at are fault for the dearth of justice. The fact that the government has taken the decision to select you from outside the inner ring has created a huge expectation in the minds of long suffering Bajans.
We note the decision of the English Court of Appeal reported in The Times Law Reports of August 30, 2011 which upholds an appeal from a decision of an English QC sitting as a deputy judge. We hope that the inexcusable backlog of cases (some not heard and some part-heard and all several years delayed) before the Barbados courts may benefit from Barbados’ silks giving of their time and undoubted experience and competence in the same manner. We would not like to think that QC has been totally debased to solely a political thank you, but means superior competence. “Qualified Competence”, if you like.
We hope that judges will consult with unconflicted senior counsel and produce decisions that do not take years and are delivered in keeping with the guidelines of 90 days or, for complicated cases, six months.
We hope that most motions can be disposed of in the Canadian manner, by telephone conference calls between judge and counsel, or summarily, with judges having the full knowledge of the Rules that they now so patently lack.
We have long advocated ADR and negotiated settlements and we hope that you will encourage this and establish a working basis on which such can be entered into.
We hope that the chaotic “scheduling” of the Registry can be resolved and that, if that means appointing a new Registrar, we will not find the present incumbent or unsatisfactory future incumbents elevated to the judiciary as a reward for the chaos like that which now reigns. That would be a slap in the face for the taxpayers. The buck has to stop somewhere and it ought to stop with the department head under whose reign (and we use the word “reign” advisedly) court files are lost, scheduling of hearings of cases either ignored or made a mess of and systems and equipment provided by the taxpayers either ignored or simply not used, to the extreme detriment and, in some cases, hardship (both personal and financial) of Bajans and overseas investors who have applied to our Courts for justice.
We also hope that you will find the means at your disposal to speed up the criminal justice system, so that no longer do accused persons remain on remand for unconscionable periods of time.
Again, my lord, our congratulations and thanks and support –and prayers* – to and for you as you embark on your task. And may the CCJ never have cause to ridicule our Justice System under your watch.