KINGSTON — Persons seeking free legal advice are being encouraged to participate in two justice fairs, which will be held simultaneously in Kingston and Montego Bay early next year.
Scheduled for February 11, the events are part of a series of information fairs being staged by the Legal Aid Council in keeping with efforts to improve access to justice for Jamaicans, especially for those who are unable to afford the full cost of legal consultation.
The venues are Emancipation Park in Kingston and Sam Sharpe Square in the second city.
In a recent interview with JIS News, Executive Director of the Council, attorney-at-law Hugh Faulkner informed that the fairs form part of the Ministry of Justice’sactivities in commemoration of Jamaica’s 50th year of Independence.
Mr. Faulkner said it is hoped that at least 15 agencies will participate, including the Victims Support Unit (VSU); Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR); Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse(CISOCA); and a number of entities “that provide assistance that touch and concern the legal arena.”
He further informed that there will be 10 to 15-minute presentations by the various agencies throughout the day, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Persons can garner additional information ftom the individual booths that will be set up.
“There will be a confidential booth where if you have a matter that requires the hearing of an attorney privately, you will be accommodated. So, you should not leave not knowing what to do, where to go, with your legal matter,” Mr. Faulkner added.
Other agencies expected to participate are: the Dispute Resolution Foundation; the Administrator-General’s Department; Land Administration Management Programme (LAMP); Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO); National Housing Trust (NHT); and National Land Agency (NLA).
The fairs began early last year with ‘Legal Aid Saturdays’ at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, then later that year at Sam Sharpe Square, which Mr. Faulkner said were successful.
“We provided all these (legal) services at no cost to the public. Sometimes, people just need to know what first steps to take. Some matters we were able to solve on the day, others they would have received directions, where to go etcetera,” he told JIS News.
He said for the upcoming events, all the general event management processes are in full train, to ensure the successful staging.
An arm of the Ministry of Justice, the Legal Aid Council is the body established by the Legal Aid Act, to administer and supervise legal aid across Jamaica.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter