JIS News

Senior Director in the Ministry of Justice, Marcia Beverley, has underscored the provisions and benefits to be derived under the Justice Transformation Agenda Programme, which the administration is pursuing for implementation.
Addressing the half yearly meeting of the Manchester Lay Magistrates Association at the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville on January 15, Mrs. Beverley said the initiative aims to improve existing structure of the justice system, while facilitating greater equity and improved efficiency in the delivery of service.
“The ultimate objective is ensuring a cohesive approach to the challenges facing the justice system in Jamaica. Once developed and approved, the transformation agenda will form the justice sector component of the overall National Development Plan [for] 2030,” she informed.
The Senior Director added that under the programme, Justices of the Peace will play a greater role in matters pertaining to land, property, and other civil, as well as criminal infractions.
“It is within this context that the office of the Justice of the Peace will benefit from the intended changes under the transformation agenda. [These include] increased jurisdiction in the petty sessions court, such as broadening the range of traffic offences currently being dealt with by these courts,” she outlined.
Mrs. Beverley added that the reform agenda will see the re-naming of the petty sessions court to the Lay Magistrate’s Court, with accompanying expansion of duties and increased authority being given to JPs.
Currently, Justices of the Peace engage in the execution of documents, in relation to matters of bail for persons who have been jailed; preside over sittings of the petty sessions courts; make routine visits to police stations; and provide counsel and advice to citizens in their communities.
Mrs. Beverly told the Manchester lay magistrates that it is envisioned that the expanded role of JPs will provide some measure of relief to resident magistrates challenged by a backlog of cases, particularly relating to traffic offences.
“The new responsibilities are to be fully supported by new and enhanced training, adequate resources, coordinated with court administration and prosecutorial services. Justices of the Peace, who have been trained, can preside over small claims with the help of legally trained court staff, with them handling matters such as rent and debt owed, which contain no legal complexity. This would, in effect, free the resident magistrate to handle more complex matters,” she stated.