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Parish Courts Officially Free of Case Backlogs

By: , September 19, 2023
Parish Courts Officially Free of Case Backlogs
Photo: Adrian Walker
Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen (left), converses with Chief Justice, Hon. Bryan Sykes, during Monday’s (September 18) swearing-in ceremony at King’s House for nine members of the judiciary who have been appointed to higher office.

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Jamaica’s parish courts have been officially declared free of case backlogs, says Chief Justice Bryan Sykes.

He made the disclosure during Monday’s (September 18) swearing-in ceremony at King’s House for members of the judiciary who have assumed higher office.

Mr. Sykes said the achievement comes two years ahead of schedule, pointing out that the parish courts’ active case load is now below three per cent, which exceeds the international standard by two per cent.

“There are no other courts in the region – not in the Caribbean, not in Central America, not in South America – that have achieved that for courts at that level. So that has placed us in a position now to revise the time standard downwards,” he informed.

The Chief Justice said six years of data indicate that 77 per cent of cases in the parish courts are disposed of in less than 12 months, “so where we are heading now, is to bring that down to nine months”.

“When you look at the statistics overall, it tells you that there is a two-hour period in the day that the courts are not sitting, because the data tells us that courtroom utilisation is just about 63 per cent in some courts. Some courts are 70 and 80 [per cent], which means that they pull the average up, which means that a number of courts are not making it to one o’clock,” he stated.

Mr. Sykes said the improvements will increase service delivery as well as place Jamaica closer in line to the standards associated with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“So, it means that you now have roughly two and a half hours in the day in which more of our citizens can be accommodated. So those cases can be brought forward, so that we reduce the delay. The whole point of this is about improving service delivery, reducing the delay and the time that citizens have to wait for justice. If we do that, then we will not just become one of the best in the Caribbean, but one of the best in the world, because we are not far off from the OECD countries where they are down to roughly six months from filing to final disposition,” he added.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice Sykes said there continues to be a reduction in the backlog of cases in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

“The Court of Appeal is now clearing its backlog, since it is disposing of more cases than cases coming in. So, it is important then to have judges in the Court of Appeal who can sustain and improve that and take us towards the day when all our courts will be backlog-free.

“So, the Supreme Court is becoming more efficient. They had a 52 per cent improvement last year, and so the judges who are here are expected to continue that trend and so take us to the finish line, which is a backlog free Supreme Court. So, we’re just about 29 per cent off from where we need to be,” he said.

In commending the new appointees, Chief Justice Sykes said they will assist in continuing the work that has begun.


Last Updated: September 19, 2023

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