President of the Barbados Bar Association Liesel Weekes believes there needs to be a “reconfiguration” of the High Court if the bottleneck of cases there is to be alleviated.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Weekes said while the recent implementation of a paper committal system meant cases were now being fast-tracked from the Magistrates’ Court to the High Court where a bottleneck was being created, the hiring of additional judicial workers alone was not enough to clear the backlog of cases.
“I agree that additional judicial officers would assist in alleviating the bottleneck that occurs from the paper committals to the High Court and if that was the sole reason why there is a bottleneck then that would completely alleviate the problem.
“But I imagine it’s more than just a shortage of judicial officers or the rotation of judicial officers or any such thing,” Weekes noted.
She pointed out that a longer rotation of judges as well as the establishment of a registry in the criminal jurisdiction were two initiatives that would ease the bottleneck.
“I know that there has been discussion at the level of the judiciary and also involving the Attorney General with respect to a sort of reconfiguration of the High Court to treat specifically with creating more than one judge in the criminal jurisdiction at any one time, that would be there for a longer period than they now are,” Weekes said.
“There has also been a recommendation to create a registry for that division of the High Court, so that the Registration Department and the court can actually keep track of the cases as they are filed and the progress of those cases. This occurs in the civil division and family division, but not the criminal division.
“I know for a fact there is a concern that because of the lack of such a registry it is difficult to keep track of the cases and of their statuses and that is a contributing factor to the bottleneck,” she added.
Weekes also lauded Madam Justice Jacqueline Cornelius for her role in preparing a proposal outlining how the High Court could be reorganized to properly deal with disposing of cases in the criminal jurisdiction in a more expeditious and timely manner.
She said that proposal was made under the former Democratic Labour Party administration with then Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite present and was well received.
“I wholeheartedly endorse the proposal and I do think that they would be of significant benefit to aiding in the expedience of how matters are dealt with and the disposal of matters in the criminal division of the High Court.
“That is one of the things that the judiciary was looking at and had been discussed among members. There was buy-in on all sides with the proposals that were made and I do think those would assist as well as increasing the number of judicial officers,” Weekes said. [email protected]