Fri | May 26, 2017

Gov't still owes litigants large sums awarded by the court

Published:Friday | May 19, 2017 | 5:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Marlene Malahoo Forte

The Attorney General's Chambers has paid nearly $70 million in judgment debts over the last nine months to litigants who successfully sued the State.

In her contribution to the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte said that the Government has reduced the outstanding sum of $512 million in June 2016 to a little more than $443.5 million as at March 2017. The amount, according to the attorney general, does not include judgment debt interest.

Malahoo Forte had indicated, in July last year, that by the end of July 2016 the Chambers and the Ministry of Justice had expected to complete all payments due for 2014.

"Although the progress seems slow, my information is that as at the end of April 2017, the ministry expected to commence making payments due with effect from June 2015."

Commenting on the system for settling judgments, the attorney general said that the Ministry of Justice makes payments to litigants on the instructions of the Chambers.

She noted that only limited funds are provided for this process on a monthly basis out of the sums allocated for the year.

Malahoo Forte divulged that "vexed litigants often attend upon the Chambers, boisterously and abusively demanding payments."

Litigants who get a judgment in their favour are paid on a first-in-first-out basis by a system agreed on by the justice ministry and the Attorney General's Chambers.

In some cases, however, payments are made in exceptional circumstances such as an urgent need for medical treatment, severe financial hardship, and the need to comply with the court orders.