Justice Minister Highlights Very Significant Laws Passed in 2015

Photo: File Minister of Justice and Government Senator, Hon. Mark Golding.

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, says Parliament passed several very important pieces of legislation in 2015, which seek to increase the efficiencies of court processes and trials.
  • It empowers the Administrator General to transfer properties to secondary beneficiaries, as long as they are able to prove their relationship to the deceased owner.
  • The Minister also cited passage of the Jury (Amendment) Act, which seeks to address the continuing problem of a shortage of jurors to serve the Circuit Courts, which has been contributing significantly to the delays in the disposal of criminal cases.

Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, says Parliament passed several very important pieces of legislation in 2015, which seek to increase the efficiencies of court processes and trials.

In an interview on the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) television programme,  ‘Issues and Answers’,  he noted that among them was the Evidence (Amendment) Act, which allows for evidence which is not in dispute to be admitted by agreement.

“In the past, one had to call witnesses to prove facts or documents which were never in dispute. It was expensive and time consuming. It also facilitates the easier admission of computer-generated evidence and provides for a new procedure whereby persons in custody don’t have to attend court for pretrial administrative hearing, such as mention dates and so on,” he explained.

The Minister also highlighted the passage of the Administrator General’s (Amendment) Act, which aims to speed up the estate administration process in Jamaica.

The Act establishes a framework for the Administrator General to efficiently administer multi-generational estates and intestate estates (where the owner dies without leaving a valid will), involving minors.

It empowers the Administrator General to transfer properties to secondary beneficiaries, as long as they are able to prove their relationship to the deceased owner.

“That legislation also tackles a problem that has been with us for decades…what we call multi-generational estates, where successive generations have died without administering their estates legally, and those estates are just tied up in legal knots,” Senator Golding said.

“We provide the mechanisms that allow the Administrator General to cut through knots by issuing an Instrument of Administration… which will enable her to get in all the assets and distribute them to the remaining beneficiaries who are alive. This will affect many thousands of families and people,” he added.

The Minister also cited passage of the Jury (Amendment) Act, which seeks to address the continuing problem of a shortage of jurors to serve the Circuit Courts, which has been contributing significantly to the delays in the disposal of criminal cases.

The Act provides for: the production of an expanded list of potential jurors from a combination of the voters’ list and the list of persons with Tax Registration Numbers (TRNs) issued under the Revenue Administration Act; and an array of seven jurors for all jury trials other than for treason or murder where (on conviction) the death penalty may be imposed.

“We have also introduced the Judicature (Supreme Court) (Amendment) Act that is going to overhaul the administration of the Supreme Court. It establishes a new Court Administration Division under the Chief Justice within the Supreme Court structure, which will have an Advisory Board to help her with the strategic aspects of administering justice,” Senator Golding said.

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