… we have a lot of blogs [BU] on the subject, but don’t you think that two months has been enough time for the CJ to have clearly thrown down some kind of gauntlet?
…like a maximum time for a judgement to be completed or else….
…like an analysis of outstanding judgements and serious actions taken against the worse defaulters. When can we expect some kind of action? In 11 years or so…? – Bush Tea
Barbadians who expect the job of incoming CJ to be a breeze obviously have no appreciation for the gargantuan task which confronts the gentleman. To those who expected significant changes or announcements after two months is like turning water into wine. The Barbados Judiciary has been decaying for for several years despite plaudits and conferral of knighthoods. The yardstick to measure the efficiency of Barbados Courts must be the extent to which justice is denied because it was delayed. Palatial judicial buildings, wig clad QCs, smooth talking Attorney Generals, comparison to other jurisdictions mean nothing unless matters are processed efficiently and justice is seemed to be done.
If the task of the CJ was one hindered by the lack of resources, financial or human, Barbadians would have cause to be optimistic. The gargantuan task becomes vivid now that the CJ has had time to appreciate that key personnel in the judiciary and support government departments lack the know how to administer the system efficiently.
Here are a few examples to assist with outlining the challenge which the CJ faces:
Costs: Unlike some other countries, when the Registrar taxes costs in a matter, it is done based on the entire file. All the particulars of letters written when, what affidavits have been drafted and filed etc. are considered to determine hours. In some other jurisdictions, the rules applied are different, for example counsel are required to submit itemised bills of costs. Many members of the judiciary appear to be ignorant of the Barbados rules and try to apply rules from other countries, like the UK. Even the judges suffer from this education deficit of Barbados rules.
Letters to the Registrar: Ordinary Barbadians and companies struggling in the harsh economic environment have to pay good money to the army of lawyers to write letters to the Registrar. When the Registrar does not respond – and BU does not care what the reason is – it means more money has to be spent to repeat the process.
Access to Judges: So many time lawyers on both sides have asked to speak to judges pre-trial on matters that might be considered to be pre-trial motions. To be expected, what is normally a routine request in other countries it is impossible to get a response in Barbados. Such a process usually has the effect of speeding up matters. We have cases which have been lodged in our court system for 12 years, incredible but true.
Lack of knowledge of law and the rules: Every time an under qualified person makes a mistake in the Judiciary or government department that supports the Judiciary there is a cost. Money and time then has to be spent correcting it. Obviously if it is not corrected, it propagates and the system becomes trapped in a sea of inefficiency. The enormity of the task for CJ Gibson becomes apparent when these wrongs are repeated in an aged old system. In this scenario ordinary Barbadians become hostage by a system meant to dispense justice in their favour but fails to deliver because John Citizen does not have the money to right the wrong.
If CJ Gibson is to make a mark Barbadians will have to embrace some realities: At the same time Government must work with the CJ by making available the required resources and ‘muscle’.