Ministry moves to cut backlog of divorce cases
The Government is taking steps to reduce the heavy backlog of divorce cases in the courts by introducing standardised forms that are used in the process.
Opposition Spokesman on Justice Delroy Chuck said there is a pile-up of thousands of divorce cases in the courts.
His government counterpart Senator Mark Golding, said a lot of delays in divorce cases occurred because lawyers were completing the designated forms improperly.
He was fielding questions from Chuck during a meeting of the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament last week which examined the Estimates of Expenditure and other documents critical to the budget process.
According to Golding, the errors on the forms trigger delays as the documents are rejected and have to be resubmitted.
"The ministry has moved to standardise all the documents that are used in the divorce process so that delays would be substantially eliminated," Golding stressed.
In relation to uncontested divorces, Golding said the rules are being amended to allow The Master in Chambers to grant the unchallenged divorce rather than awaiting the signature of a judge. He said this would also help to expedite the process.
The justice minister also highlighted that his ministry was recruiting additional judges to the Supreme Court.
Golding told lawmakers of the lower house that judges were also in the process of completing a code of conduct which includes commitments on their part to delivering judgments within a six-month period.
The justice minister said his ministry was working on proposals that would see minor cases in the Resident Magistrate's, Court being tried within a maximum of two years. He said another recommendation would stipulate a time frame for the trial of all cases, failing which the individual's constitutional rights would be breached.
Golding said work has been done on these proposals and they would be taken to Cabinet shortly. "They can achieve a transformational effect on the lower courts and we are starting with summary cases initially and, depending on how it works. it can be pushed up the system to more serious cases."
He also mentioned that a new home has been found for the Accountant General's Department at Ocean Boulevard. downtown Kingston. The department is expected to relocate within six months.