Wed | Nov 25, 2020

Proposed bankruptcy division in courts

Published:Friday | March 21, 2014 | 12:00 AM

With a minimum of 10 years for a bankruptcy case to be resolved in the Jamaican courts, opposition spokesman on Justice Alexander Williams has recommended that a separate division be created in the judicial system to expeditiously resolve these issues in the courts.

The proposal came yesterday during a meeting of a joint-select committee of Parliament examining the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

"When you talk about this law and a modernised approach to the winding up process and consequential amendments to the Companies Act, there should be a separate division for dealing with bankruptcy and insolvency issues," Williams told his colleagues.

"I don't think at the end of the day there is going to be a lot of efficacy in this until we deal with where the rubber hits the road. The rubber hits the road at the Supreme Court Registry," he argued.

Williams, an attorney-at-law, also indicated that another challenge to the expedition of bankruptcy cases was the seeming lack of training of court staff to deal with these matters.

Trustee in Bankruptcy Celia Barclay, who made a presentation to the committee yesterday, warned against replicating what she described as "frustrating" issues under the current regime.

"The entire bankruptcy process is oftentimes frustrated by reliance on the courts and the way in which the court process is conducted," she said.

Barclay explained that the current bankruptcy law made provision for a separate bankruptcy court. However, she said that provision is not being utilised.

"All applications are filed in the already overburdened civil registry and so in terms of getting applications heard and disposed of you don't get the benefit of expediency, that the act contemplated.

"In our experience given the matters that are currently being administered by the office (of the Trustee in Bankruptcy) you are looking at a minimum of 10 years in relation to an insolvent individual. It's not a very timely process ... some of it is due to delays in the courts, others are due to the actual steps that need to be taken."