Supreme Court registry needs urgent overhaul
Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator
The long delay in processing administrative matters in the Supreme Court registry is posing severe problems for many lawyers.
The lawyers say because of the delay in getting signed documents their clients are becoming frustrated.
In addition, the clients do not believe the lawyers when they tell them about the problems they are encountering in the registry.
Ian Wilkinson, president of the Jamaican Bar Association, said he was aware of the problems and pointed out that the system needs an overhaul.
"There are many problems in the justice system and the delays in receiving documents out of the registry, especially signed judgments, often causes frustration and can lead to injustice," said Wilkinson.
He is calling for the authorities to give the necessary resources to the Ministry of Justice so that "the hardworking minister Senator Mark Golding" will be able to deliver quick access to justice to the people of Jamaica.
There have been numerous complaints about the delay in getting orders for divorce petitions and probates, as well as delays in the signing of orders for judgments of seizure and sale.
"It appears that this file has gone to sleep in the Supreme Court," a lawyer wrote last month in relation to a default judgment.
A clerk from one law firm told The Sunday Gleaner that a default judgment was filed on November 22, 2011 and up to last week, the certificate had not been issued by the registry.
NO PROGRESS MADE
Another legal clerk who came to the registry last week to make enquires about an order for seizure and sale had documents to show that the particular order was prepared and submitted from April 21, 2012 but the order is yet to be signed.
In another case, a claimant who received a $1 million award in November 2011 in a negligence suit is still waiting on his lawyer to take steps to recover the money because the order which was filed in December 2011 has not been signed.
There are complaints that the status of cases filed as recent as last year cannot be obtained as they have not yet been entered in the computer and that in some cases the files cannot be located.
The slow processing of probates is cause for concern and last week one lawyer argued that beneficiaries who want to get what their loved ones have left for them should not be punished because of delays.
"Once it is established that a will is valid then it should be processed expeditiously," said the lawyer who asked that his name be withheld.
Lawyers have also been complaining for several years about the backlog in divorce petitions but a court official explained that steps are now being taken to resolve that problem.