The legal profession needs to take some responsibility in the efforts to achieve a better justice system for the country.
This challenge was thrown out to practising lawyers by Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, during his presentation at a ‘Meet the Ministers Power Breakfast’ forum, held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, on April 26.
The Minister, who is a lawyer by profession, grounded his charge in the observation that, “over the years, some of the challenges that exist in the justice system are really as a result of our learned or developed behaviour, or the things that we are prepared to put up with."
Mr. Golding explained that his desire to involve practising lawyers in the reforms of the judicial system and process is consistent with the new administration’s desire for private/public sector partnership in national development, and “in our area, that’s a very real issue."
The Minister added that solutions to the problems plaguing the system will have to include a change of the “attitude and practice” of how counsel as well as judges conduct matters.
Providing an update on his main areas of focus since assuming office, the Minister cited improvement to the court system, supported by the Justice Reform Implementation Unit, which is now properly resourced and functional; and giving momentum to the legislative agenda, including the tabling of three pieces of legislation in the Senate at its next sitting (April 27), including the Evidence Act, to allow video recording and live video link into evidence.
He said legislative support has also been given to measures to strengthen Jamaica’s competitiveness, with special reference to the ease of enforcement of contracts and the settlement of commercial disputes through the Commercial Court or by way of Alternative Dispute Resolution.
With respect to the proposed changes to the Evidence Act, the Minister said that this will reinforce measures to stamp out the lotto scam, as it will ease the plight (and sometimes inability) of victims required to travel to the island as witnesses to aid in trial and prosecution.
By Allan Brooks, JIS Senior Reporter