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Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Robert Rainford, has said that the Ministry is aiming to make significant inroads in reducing the backlog of court cases within the next five years, under the Justice Reform Programme.
Speaking at the 11th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF), at the Foundation’s headquarters in Kingston on Friday (December 11), he disclosed that, based on figures from the courts, the annual backlog of cases could amount to as much as 150,000 per year.
“We have asked for weekly reports from the courts. We started in August, and when we look at what is coming, we are having in the region of 3,000 cases per week not being heard in the courts,” he explained.
However, Mr. Rainford noted that the thrust towards sending more cases for mediation to the Foundation, has been helping with the fair and timely resolution of some.
The Justice Ministry has also partnered with the DRF to train 50 Justices of the Peace and community leaders in Restorative Justice. The Ministry is now trying to recruit a national technical advisor for the programme.
“This person will help to drive the Restorative Justice programme in the Ministry of Justice, and we need somebody who has that interest. We have been facing challenges in identifying such a person. We have gone overseas and we are looking as wide as possible to see if we can find that candidate,” Mr. Rainford told the AGM.
Turning to the issue of selecting persons for jury duty using their Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN), Mr. Rainford disclosed that the Ministry is hoping to receive the list from the Tax Administration Department next week.
Also speaking at the AGM, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the DRF, Donna Parchment Brown, reported that last year the DRF had a 54 per cent settlement rate for cases referred to it by the Supreme Court.
She also said there was an increase of 4.54 per cent in the number of referrals to the DRF from the Supreme Court for this year, compared to last year. She is predicting next year the DRF could face a 30-35 per cent increase in referrals.

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