Wed | Nov 14, 2018

Gov't to blame for snail's-pace courts

Published:Monday | February 5, 2018 | 12:00 AM


I am very troubled by Andrew Holness' appointment of Bryan Sykes as acting chief justice. I am not concerned about the temporary nature of the appointment, but more so the PM's justification for such an appointment. In announcing the appointment, Holness asserted that Sykes' permanent appointment would depend on his performance.

This statement is a clear interference of the PM in the judiciary. My questions to Mr Holness are:

1. What will be the rubric or scale on which Justice Sykes will be measured upon?

2. Is it the soundness of his judgement?

3. Is it the funding of the judiciary? If the answer to questions one and two is yes, then you are interfering in the judiciary. If the answer to question three is also no, the blame of our judicial weakness should be at the feet of central Government.


Weaknesses in the judiciary


The PM should be aware that the weaknesses in the judiciary are tied to central Government's failure to adequately fund the judiciary.

Over the years, the executive arm of the government has refused to increase the number of courtrooms, appoint more judges, modernise the database, and employ more court staff.

By doing all of the above, the justice system should improve. The justice system improvement has little or nothing to do with the performance of the chief justice, but more with the funding required from Cabinet (Prime Minister Holness, and the Ministry of Finance).

Thus, it begs the question, why is the PM attempting to interfere with the judiciary based on Sykes' permanent appointment depending on his performance?

Any discussion about performance is troublesome and borders on judicial interference. The quality of Sykes' judgments is subject to the Privy Council, not Mr Holness, and the funding required for the proper administration of justice is in the hands of the Cabinet.


UWU, Cave Hill