Thu | Aug 11, 2022

Our archaic laws need urgent reform

Published:Thursday | August 4, 2022 | 12:06 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

PLEASE ALLOW me space to speak on the archaism of the laws that govern Jamaica and the way in which those very laws infringe, perpetuate and abuse the course of justice in the Jamaican society. In this case, attention is on the Rent Restriction Act of Jamaica. Jamaicans, do you know that the Rent Restriction Act was passed in 1944? Yes, but let us examine the significance of the period – as a nation, the framework for a more liberal constitution that would take us into a new Jamaica was the order of the day. Land, therefore, would not have changed hands or given attention as such; it would still have been in the hands of these wielding power. History would have taught that land even to this day belongs to the crown; crown being the State, therefore, even on the piece that you are paying taxes for, if the State wants that land, [it has] the prerogative of gaining it without a fuss. Antiquated, don’t you think? In addition, at the time of the passing of the law, Jamaica was still under the control of England and although the wheel of history was turning, we had not got independence, therefore, we are talking about many different variables, chief of which was the harshness and strictness of the law towards the minority – tenants.

Having shown some of the nuances that created the stricture of law, (ownership of land) we now call upon those that have the portfolio mechanisms to effect change – the chief justice of Jamaica, the Government of Jamaica and the private sector, inter alia. Chief justice, at your swearing-in as the eighth chief justice of independent Jamaica, you spoke of the complexity as well as the magnitude of the work that needed to be done to transform the judicial arm of government.

However, sir, you made no mention of the archaism of [the] laws, which is the root cause of unfair judgments, the continuity of which fuels wrongness in the judgments meted out by the courts. The speech was flawless, now there’s a call for action, sir, through change [in the laws] of Jamaica for Vision 2030 to materialise.

The prime minister, on the other hand, at his 2020 swearing-in ceremony, gave assurance to serve because he was entrusted with another opportunity to be the chief steward of our affairs, therefore, he would use every fibre of his being and all the energy of his spirit for the advancement, fulfilment and prosperity of the Jamaican people, even where there was anticipation of internal challenges.

If Jamaica is to see change in the relationship of tenancy, the Rent Restriction Act must be given urgency of reform, especially when one visits the most frequently asked questions and see the responses of the [Rent] Board. Therefore, immediate attention is required to disperse the brewing tension. The time for ecstasy has passed.

CLAIRE CLARKE