KINGSTON — Minister of Justice, Hon Delroy Chuck, says his Ministry is exploring introducing payment of a stipend to Justices of the Peace (JPs), for presiding over civil matters under restorative justice and community justice tribunals systems.
Mr. Chuck said it was recognized that JPs would be required to become more involved in the settlement of disputes, as the Ministry moves to fully implement the programmes, in addition to their work in Petty Sessions court.
He was speaking at the Ministry of Justice’s Restorative Justice National Stakeholders Sensitization and Installation Ceremony for Justices of the Peace, at the Morant Bay Parish Church, St. Thomas on Thursday, November 30.
Mr. Chuck said that, currently, civil matters involving disputes requiring settlement are referred to the Disputes Resolution Foundation (DRF), before they are tried in the courts. He noted that, at the DRF the complainant and the defendant pay the Foundation to hear the case.
"I am looking (at) and hoping that the Resident Magistrates will also have that opportunity to refer these (civil) cases to the DRF, with an understanding that the persons who have agreed to assist in the dispute resolution, which I am hoping will be more and more JPs, will also benefit from the stipend,” he stated.
Noting that in matters referred to the Supreme Court, both the complainant and defendant pay fees for their issues to be heard, the Justice Minister expressed the hope that, where possible, similar arrangements can made at the RM court, where the matters are referred.
He said that even if the complainant and defendant pay $5,000 each, it would be worthwhile, in terms of addressing and paying the persons who sit and assist them in the resolution.
"So we are looking at the possibility that, to assist in clearing up some of the backlog of civil cases, we send them to (the) Dispute Resolution Foundation first, and this is where we are going to need people to participate,” Mr. Chuck explained.
By Douglas Mcintosh, JIS Reporter