No matter what comes its way, Chief Justice Ivor Archie is convinced that the Judiciary can continue to do more with less.
“As an independent arm of State that has always existed with what we consider to be less than our appropriate share of the national budget,” he said, adding that he expects this year to be no different.
He also said he continued to be disappointed at the ‘glacial pace’ of change in the public sector which suffered from an implementation deficit — a manifestation of a ‘Post-Colonial Traumatic Syndrome,’ that rewarded risk-averse management styles. But while he admitted it was not about money, he said the lack of money did lend more urgency to the implementation of some of the plans for the restructuring of the Judiciary.
In his address at the opening of the 2017/2018 law term yesterday, Chief Justice Archie spoke of some of the plans for this year and gave an account of the disposition of cases in the various divisions of the Judiciary, pointing to marginal improvements in the Civil Division and a less than favourable improvement in the Criminal Division.
He chose not to report the statistics in the magistracy which he said was incomplete. Instead, he focused on the theme of this year’s plan for the Judiciary of ‘resetting the criminal justice system.’
“There can be no justice without proper systems. There are no easy or quick fixes for a morass that has taken several decades to develop,” he said.
He recognised that there were two areas of the court operations which have not received sufficient attention — transcription services and the Petty Civil Courts.
He spoke of additional training and hiring of Computer Aided Transcription (CAT) reporters which he said will assist in easing the backlog in the magistracy.
He also spoke of the establishment of a virtual small claims court with online mediation services which will reduce the need for court space resources.
In response, Attorney General Faris Al Rawi said the initiatives outlined by the Chief Justice coincided with Government’s agenda for criminal justice reform. “I was very pleased to hear him speak to the Family and Juvenile Division of the courts.
As you know this would be a first. For legislation to be passed, two courts built, all protocols being put in place, 13,000 persons interviewed for positions and courts open within a 16-month time frame is a first for this country. It is a huge item for celebration,” Al Rawi said. He also agreed there was a need to reform the service commissions which both he and Archie said were moving at a glacial pace.
“One certainly has to look at that system which needs constitutional reform,” he said.
Al Rawi also acknowledged that the main reason for the delay in the court system was because of transcription issues, and said the focus of the Judiciary will lead to improvement in the criminal justice system.