Acting Registrar, Jihan Williams

Press Release

Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 22, 2016 (SKNIS):  Legal representatives from across the Federation reflected on the message from Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE, as she delivered a powerful address during the commencement of the opening of the new law year on Tuesday, September 20. Her address was streamed live via simulcast from St. Lucia.

Jihan Williams, Acting Registrar, commented on the Chief Justice’s address, noting that she believes those in attendance appreciated her comprehensive review of the work of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) for the law year 2015-2016.

Crown Counsel Gumbs (second row-left)
Crown Counsel Gumbs (second row-left)

“She clearly articulated her vision for the Court going forward, especially for the year ahead under the theme “The ECSC: The Movement Towards an Accessible Court”. A number of measures were highlighted geared towards increasing access to justice for all citizens,” said Ms. Williams.  “One particular measure that stood out to me was the focus of the ECSC to increase the number or resources allotted to division courts that would individually focus on family, civil or commercial matters. This would allow judges and officials to offer specialized service and would significantly reduce backlog, as cases should be able to move through the system much faster. Efforts to incorporate technology in the administration of justice on a larger scale were also very encouraging. The ECSC is making strides, albeit slow to some, but her speech left an assurance that work is certainly being done to ensure that the mandate of the Court is being vigorously pursued.”

Azard Gumbs, Crown Counsel, Office of the Attorney General, Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, noted that the Chief Justice’s message was timeless, as her address “spoke on the movements toward an accessible court”.

“She also stated that the lack of proper facilities has negatively affected the access of justice but noted ways in which there have been improvements in various Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) territories in order to ensure that citizens are able to have their voices heard and exercise their rights in a timely manner,” Mr. Gumbs stated.

Mr. Gumbs expects the 2016-2017 law year to be a productive one in St. Kitts and Nevis.

“In fact, it should be quite interesting St. Kitts and Nevis has just received a new Judge and a new Director of Public Prosecutions. The Attorney General in his address on the commencement of the law term mentioned the relocation of various court offices and staff, an additional court room, and the possibility of a second judge in St. Kitts. In light of the aforesaid, I am looking forward to see how the year will unfold,” he said.

In sharing similar sentiments, the Acting Registrar said it should be an exciting year as the ECSC will celebrate its 50th anniversary in February 2017.

“For St. Kitts and Nevis specifically, it should be similarly momentous as the vision to have two high courts operating simultaneously should finally come to fruition in this law term,” said Ms. Williams. “Work is in progress to transform office space upstairs the Lee L. Moore Judicial Complex into a second courtroom. With all the growth and changes, we look forward to increased partnership between the Registry, the Bar and the public in the transition period.”

Chief Justice Pereira explained that the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) always looks forward to the ceremonial opening of the New Law Year.

“This is for us as, as well as for you, a time of reflection on the workings of the court over the previous year and a time to share with you our plans for moving forward along the single and focus pathway of delivery of justice, while consistently refining and redefining the stepping stoned along the way with the objective of improving and hopefully attaining equal access to justice,” said the Chief Justice. “It behooves me at the onset to make mention of the fact that this year’s opening is truly extra special as it marks the commencement of the courts’50th Anniversary celebratory year. This is quite an achievement measured on any scale. As the year progresses we will share with you our plans and the ways in which you can participate in making this an auspicious event.”

The ECSC commenced the New Law Year 2016-2017 with its usual Ceremonial Opening in the Form of a Special Sitting of the Court. There were also simultaneous special sittings in the other eight (8) Member States and Territories of the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).