EDITORIAL: Consultation way to end court delays
THE CALL this past weekend by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart for more “efficient use” of the current batch of judges in the country’s judicial system, rather than increasing their numbers, deserves a sober response from the Barbados Bar Association.
This could be achieved by structured dialogue between the Prime Minister and relevant advisers and a delegation from the Bar Association headed by president Andrew Pilgrim.
After all, to follow the arguments advanced by Mr Pilgrim – who favours increasing the number of judges to more effectively deal with a prevailing backlog of overdue judgments – and the Prime Minister’s preference for “efficiency” in the delivery of judgments, both sides seem to be speaking in favour of overcoming a burden in the interest of justice for all.
It has evolved as a truism in various jurisdictions, not just Barbados, that justice delayed can be justice denied.
Currently, there are members of the legal profession in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, to identify just two other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states, who are also complaining against the fatigue they routinely experience over recurring lengthy delays in obtaining judicial judgments.
Perhaps if the once vibrant Organization of Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Associations could be engaged by the Barbados Bar Association, and counterparts in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago as well, it would soon be realized that the long, frustrating delays in securing judicial judgments are not just a local problem, but also a regional one that cries out for a regional approach.
Nevertheless, desirable as this may be, there is no good reason why Prime Minister Stuart and/or his Attorney General should not start the process of consulting with the Bar Association to ascertain how best to resolve the current national problem of significant delays in the delivery of judgments.
Barbados’ success in so doing could then be emulated by other jurisdictions within CARICOM. In multiparty democracies the consultative approach is always preferable to the confrontation route for yielding results.
The current controversy between Stuart’s administration and the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies over Barbadian students paying tuition fees from academic year 2014 is a classic example of why consultation should be preferred to avoid conflicts.
Hence, our appeal for the Government and the Bar Association to settle down as soon as possible to soberly address, in good faith, the need to end the long time it is taking, in far too many instances, for judges to deliver their judgments.