Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
THE CORNWALL Bar Association (CBA) is calling on Justice Minister Mark Golding to have the building housing the Savanna-la-Mar Resident Magistrate's Court at Great George Street reconfigured.
President of the association, Michael Erskine, told The Gleaner that the building, which formerly housed the Westmoreland Parish Council, lacks the infrastructure to house a resident magistrate's court and needs to be dealt with immediately.
"If you look at the building, which was formerly occupied by the parish council, you will see that it needs to be reconfigured. We want the judge to be properly seated and for a dock to be set up. It is in a bad way. For this particular courtroom to be properly constituted, it would require a capital outlay of approximately $1.5 million or less, so we are asking the minister to look into that to ensure that this becomes a reality soon."
Erskine is also calling for the relocation of the Family Court from Rose Street in Savanna-la-Mar to a more suitable location in the town.
"The building is old and dilapidated and totally inappropriate to house anything, much less a court."
The CBA president said in the interim, they would be pressing to ensure that Golding holds true to his word to have the limit in a resident magistrate court improved significantly from the $250,000 which now obtains.
"A litigant who has a claim for over $250,000, which is not much, must go to the Supreme Court in Kingston to have the case tried. We are recommending an increase to $1.5 million, and we hope this find favour with the minister."
Agitating for years
Council member of the association and chairman of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce's Justice and Security Committee, Nathan Robb, said the association has been agitating for years for the change and would be holding Golding to his word.
"The minister is already of the view that subject to the amount that will be determined, he would want to see a new limit in place by the end of January 2013. We are going to be holding him to that timeline." Erskine and Robb also indicated that the association is earnestly seeking a secure building to house a civil registry in Montego Bay, which would nullify the need for people to travel to Kingston to file cases in the Supreme Court.
Robb cited that with the advancement in information communications technology, the processing of documents should not be difficult, adding that it would be beneficial not only to people in Montego Bay, but those outside of the Corporate Area.