Tue | Apr 25, 2017

My 2015 wish list

Published:Monday | January 5, 2015 | 1:00 AM

At the end of 2014, I reflected on the topics I wrote about during the year. Although they covered a wide range of issues, the most popular pieces related to family law, including divorce, child custody, maintenance, prenuptial agreement, and matrimonial property disputes. Running a close second in the popularity polls were the pieces on administration of estates, with executors commission being the most controversial issue.

I expect the trends in reader comments and the demand for topics to remain unchanged, so you can continue to look forward to a steady diet of family and property law articles for 2015 with a variety of other areas interspersed.

I have at least one prediction for 2015 that I know will come true the frequent complaints about the slow pace of legislative reform and delays in the courts will continue to follow us during 2015 and this forms the basis of my 2015 wish list:

1. The backlog in divorce matters in the Supreme Court will be a thing of the past. According to my sources, in December 2014, there were more than 400 applications for decree nisi and more than 200 applications for decree absolute not yet listed for consideration by a judge. At least 1,200 persons were waiting to move on with their lives.

2. A specialised Family Division will be established in the Supreme Court so that we can create a more uniform family law jurisprudence, with matters being handled by judges with the background, experience, and interest in handling family-law matters.

3. Pre-action mediation in family matters, especially matrimonial property and child custody, will come into being.

4. The Rent Restriction Act will be amended to balance the interests of landlords and tenants, so that tenants do not continue to run rough-shod over landlords.

5. It will be easier to enforce judgements. It makes no sense to be holding the paper saying that you have a judgement when months, and sometimes years, pass before warrants and orders for the enforcement of judgements are signed.

6. The basic stamp duty for filing claims in the Supreme Court will be increased from $2,000 to a more realistic sum, to try to catch up with the administrative costs associated with filing claims. That figure has not changed for at least 15 years. Perhaps some of that increased revenue could be used to make some well-needed improvements in the Supreme Court.

7. The table of basic costs recoverable by successful litigants in the Supreme Court will be amended. The figures have not changed since the Civil Procedure Rules came into effect in 2003.

8. At the very least, attorneys-at-law will have online access to the Supreme Courts electronic files, rather than having to attend court to carry out a search of the records. Every document filed at the Supreme Court is scanned, so this should be possible.

9. Find a suitable new home for the Dispute Resolution Foundation so that meditations can take place at a location that is better suited for providing those services and the burden of the backlog in the Supreme Courts will not simply be transferred to that facility.

10. Identify more appropriate locations for several Family Courts across the Island and the Corporate Area Traffic Court. At the very least, there should be parking available so that parties are not at the mercy of touts and thugs or at risk of getting traffic fines for parking illegally. Also, the courts should have ramps or lifts so that disabled persons are able to gain access to the courts.

My list of wishes could go on and on, but I thought these were at least attainable.

I wish my faithful readers the very best that 2015 has to offer and I look forward to your continued interest and support.

Sherry Ann McGregor is a partner and mediator in the firm of Nunes Scholefield DeLeon & Co. Please send comments and questions to lawsofeve@gmail.com or lifestyle@gleanerjm.com.