Chief Justice Ivor Archie says the Judiciary never advised or contemplated the partial implementation of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Offences) Act.
He said so yesterday while delivering his annual address at the opening of the new law term at the Convocation Hall, Hall of Justice, Port-of-Spain. Archie described the implementation of the act as a “mammoth undertaking” and said it could not be realistically implemented before January 2013.
He said: “It has always been our position, and we so advised, that implementation could not realistically take place before the first quarter of 2013 and we in the judiciary have never discussed or contemplated partial implementation.”
The central theme of the recent legislation is to abolish preliminary enquiries in the magistrates court for indictable criminal offences. The enquiries will be replaced by sufficiency hearings which would take place before a High Court Master.
Archie promised the Judiciary would work hard to meet the proposed deadline but noted the process should not be rushed, which may lead to new backlogs in the administration of justice.
“We must and will resist any temptation to make a premature start in the eagerness to demonstrate ‘performance.’ All the ducks must be lined up, or chaos will ensue right after start-up,” Archie warned. The issue of the early proclamation of Section 34 of the act on August 31, was first raised in an exclusive Sunday Guardian story almost two weeks ago. The section was eventually repealed during an emergency sitting of Parliament last week.
Archie said there were approximately 14,000 new criminal matters filed in the court system annually which the controversial act sought to address.
He said: “It is clear that any new system that is put in place will have to absorb a huge influx of new matters in addition to those already in the system, for which transitional arrangements have to be made. “Courtrooms, registries and monitoring and compliance units have to be established.” (Trinidad Guardian)