Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Holness tips Sykes to lead transformation of justice system

Published:Friday | March 2, 2018 | 12:57 AM
From left: Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck, Prime Minister Andrew Holness and newly appointed Chief Justice Bryan Sykes at the ceremony for the swearing-in of Sykes as the chief justice at King's House on Thursday, March 1.

Newly invested Chief Justice Bryan Sykes was yesterday backed by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to lead the transformation of the nation’s justice system.

Sykes’ assumption of the chief justice post followed a month of public backlash over Holness’s decision to advise Governor General Sir Patrick Allen to appoint him to act in the position.

In his remarks during the swearing-in ceremony held at King’s House, Holness said that he had carefully noted the discourse surrounding Sykes’ acting appointment, adding that there had been no question of his “extraordinary legal insight”.

The prime minister reasoned that with the appointment, Justice Sykes is being given a valuable and unique opportunity to transform how justice is delivered.

“The public, in whose interest we all serve, more than ever want to see an improved justice system through strengthening the rule of law and timely justice outcomes,” he asserted.

“I am confident that Honourable Justice Bryan Sykes will discharge his functions with honour, integrity, and distinction,” Holness said to rousing applause.

Holness reiterated that he had the highest respect and regard for the judiciary, stating that the executive which he leads had no inclination to undermine the independence of the judicial branch or even to trespass anywhere near the discretion of the judges.

“We’re interested in a partnership to ensure the efficiency and accountability of the judiciary to the people. We must modernise our society, and it is not just about providing more resources, it is how we use resources that we currently have. We must be in a constant state of transformation,” he explained.
Senate president and Queen’s Counsel Thomas Tavares-Finson has tipped newly invested Chief Justice Bryan Sykes to become one of the finest judiciary heads in independent Jamaica.

“The decision by the honourable prime minister to appoint him chief justice will prove an inspiring choice,” Tavares-Finson remarked.

Justice Sykes’ predecessor and Jamaica’s first female chief justice, Zaila McCalla, concurred, stating “He’s a judge of unquestionable integrity and ability and is eminently qualified to be confirmed as Chief Justice of Jamaica.”

In his reply, Justice Sykes said that he was under no illusion about what is expected of him and the legal system, stating: “To be the head of a country’s judiciary is an awesome, and some would say overwhelming, responsibility and it is not one that I take lightly.”

As the country’s eighth chief justice, Sykes was conferred with the Order of Jamaica, the country’s fourth-highest honour, by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen.