KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday March 11, 2019 – Chief Justice Bryan Sykes has committed to implementing measures to improvements that he says will make Jamaica’s judicial system the best in the region and among the best in the world.
Among these, he says, are steps to ensure the delivery of outstanding judgments in the Supreme Court by the end of this year.
“I am making it my mandate for us to have excellent courts,” Justice Sykes said in a televised national address last night, identifying those pillars as trial and hearing date certainty; efficiency; and a culture of service among staff and judges.
“My vision is for our judiciary to be the best in the Caribbean region in three years and among the best in the world in six years beginning March 1, 2019. To support this vision, I give my commitment to put in place measures so that by December 31, 2019 all outstanding judgments in the Supreme Court will be delivered. As of 2020 a judgment should be delivered within 90 days, and in exceptional cases 180 days, following completion of the case,” he added.
“Courts will start on time and trial time productively utilized. All stakeholders – judges, court staff, witnesses, jurors, attorneys at law, police officers and others, despite the many challenges they face, must resolve to come to court to assist in the administration of justice,” he added.
Justice Sykes further indicated that the Court of Appeal’s case disposal rate should also increase.
Among the other commitments he made was the issuance of a decree absolute in divorce matters within 16 weeks, once the documents are submitted error-free, while advising that by December 31, 2019, “there will be no outstanding divorces”.
In relation to matters of probate and letters of administration intended to establish the validity of wills and dealing with the estates of persons who have died without leaving a will, Justice Sykes indicated that once all relevant documents are submitted error-free, the Supreme Court’s staff will ensure these are settled within 12 weeks.
Meanwhile, the Chief Justice advised that ongoing training is being facilitated for court staff to improve their basic customer service and stress management skills.
This, he pointed out, is in keeping with the judicial system’s Customer Service Charter, which articulates that court staff will be courteous, respectful and prompt.
“Research has shown that the perception of court users is influenced by how they are treated and not only by the outcome of their cases. This [training] will continue as we aim for First World standards,” he added.
Sykes, who took up the post of Chief Justice last year, contended that Jamaica’s attainment of developed country status by 2030 requires a judiciary that “remains strong and maintains its integrity”, and he paid tribute to his predecessors and other judges for their role in this regard.
He sought to assure that “the judiciary that I lead will ensure that Jamaica is the place of choice to live, work, raise families, do business and retire in peace and safety”.