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PM Anthony Expresses Mixed Feelings Over Performance and Operations of Judiciary

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Contact: John Emmanuel

Wednesday, October 02, 2002 - The House of Assembly on Tuesday, October 1st, 2002 passed the ‘Recording of Court Proceedings Bill,’ that will modernize and in the process minimize courtroom delays. The bill was tabled by Prime Minister Honourable Dr. Kenny Anthony who expressed mixed feelings on the performance and operations of the judiciary.

Dr. Anthony firstly commended court officials and in particular Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Sir Denis Byron, for his foresight and continuous efforts at instituting reform throughout the judiciary. According to Dr. Anthony, Sir Denis’ efforts had played a pivotal role in getting the new legislation before the House.

“Since the appointment of the Chief Justice we have seen the enactment of new rules of procedure, following that we has seen the efforts to train court reporters to facilitate the recording referred to in this legislation, said Dr. Anthony. He added, “His Lordship has moved in the direction of attempting to encourage parties to engage in mediation in an effort to reduce the number of cases reaching the courts.” The financing for many of these activities is in fact coming from a CIDA Project which the current administration negotiated some three to four years ago with the World Bank.

Prime Minister Anthony indicated that at other levels St. Lucia was also beginning to see major judicial reforms. The Civil Code of St. Lucia enacted since 1879 is now undergoing review. Side by side with that is the on going revision of the laws of St. Lucia being undertaken by a British firm. However although welcoming and praising the changes Dr. Anthony told parliamentarians that Government was not entirely pleased with the management of the judicial system.

“I am not interested in the decisions of judges because I am casting no aspersions on the decisions of judges. I want to make that clear, I am not attacking or suggesting anything adverse about the independence of the judiciary, I am not in that domain. I am speaking about the management of the court system, our Magistrates courts, the delivery of services in these courts is what I am talking about. We need to draw a separation between issues of judicial independence and issues of accountability,” noted Dr. Anthony.

The Prime Minister has called for a full fledged debate on the issue by the House of Assembly, noting that reforms to the judicial system do not belong exclusively to lawyers and judges, but to civil society. Under the new Recording of Court Proceedings Bill, notes of evidence will be taken by officers of the court and be made available via computer printouts for a fee ranging from to $10 to $15.


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