The former LIME building on the Carenage is now the home to 4 High Courts on the island.
The building will hear cases from High Courts No. 2 and No. 3 which deals with Criminal matters and Courts 4 and 5 will focus on Civil matters.
According to Minister of Legal Affairs, Elvin Nimrod despite the limited resources of Government, it decided to enter into a lease agreement with LIME to acquire the building to house the courts and the State’s intention is to eventually purchase the building as it seeks to provide easier access to justice.
“We realise that it has been said that justice delayed is justice denied and you know that there is a serious backlog of cases in our system and this denies people justice. In other words you have cases that are in the system for five years and people feel aggrieved that they cannot get their matters resolved and you know the problems if you have a matter pending so long. What happens, witnesses might disappear, they might die, records lost and a lot can happen in the process and when the time comes that this matter should be heard it has to be dismissed because relevant information and evidence are not present,” he said.
The Deputy Prime Minister disclosed that the LIME building will also be used to hear matters brought before the Master’s Chambers as well as the Mediation Centre on Scott Street in St. George’s.
Minister Nimrod said, the Government decided that because it was not able to get the OECS Justice Project does not mean that the people should be deprived in terms of justice.
“We will have the Master’s Chambers there as well. We will have the Mediation Centre and we all know how important that is because Mediation also helps in reducing and unclogging that backlog because there are matters that of course doesn’t necessarily have to go to a judge but can be resolved in terms of mediation – well equipped with modern facilities,” he remarked.
Minister Nimrod also addressed the critical question of the old system of Court Reporting in order to help speed up the process in court cases.
“I cannot comprehend how the Magistrate or Judge takes note (in) long hand. I can’t because the system where I trained (United States), you have Court Stenographers and the records are well established but in our case you have to write – this has to be a thing of the past very soon”, he said.
“…And of course the records, when you have a trial the records must be immediately available because if one of the litigants appeals the decision then the Appellate court must have the records but if you do not have proper court reporting of course you would have a difficulty,” he added.
The senior government minister also addressed the new initiative known as the JURIST project in which the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is getting support from Canada to help improve the justice system in the Caribbean in which the participating states have to make some financial contributions.
He said: “Recently we received a project called the JURIST project by the CCJ and the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. The Government has an obligation for some $350, 000.00 initially, now it’s about a half a million dollars. Although we have financial difficulties we believe that that is an area that we need to invest heavily”.
Minister Nimrod pointed out that although he cannot promise that everything will be perfect, the initiatives being taken will go a long way in ensuring that justice is administered in a timely manner in the country.