CCJ had noted High Court constraints in Guyana

Last Updated on Sunday, 9 June 2024, 21:36 by Writer

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) had taken note of the limited number of judges in Guyana’s High Court, despite the legal requirement to deliver decisions within 120 days.

During the hearing of an appeal in the matter of Ramon Gaskin v Minister of Natural Resources and others, CCJ President Justice Adrian Saunders had told Lawyer for the applicant, Seenath Jairam that he needed to consider the shortage of judges in Guyana and the constraints that Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire was facing at the time she had received that case.

“To ask this court to require the judiciary to produce outputs without any regard as to all of the materials and supports that are necessary to produce those outputs within the required time, how do you square that equation?” he questioned.

In response, Mr Jairam had proposed that a declaration would serve a “significant” purpose reminding the executive that there was a time limit for judges to render decisions.

Justice Saunders, instead, suggested that there should be a declaration to equip the judiciary adequately. “The declaration that you then need is to put in place all the materials and all the supports and all the assistance that are necessary in order for judges to do their work,” the CCJ President said.

The Guyana-born Trinidad-based Senior Counsel said the law needed to be revoked rather than have it as a “dead letter law” that is consistent with the constitution, in referring to the Chief Justice taking long to deliver a judgement.

Chief Justice George-Wiltshire last week expressed grave concern about repeated public criticisms of the judiciary’s failure to deliver decisions within the legally required 120 days, without taking into consideration the severe workload.

Stating his displeasure, without any proof to back up his claims of inaccuracies and mischief contained in a news report about his interaction with the Chief Justice in open court, the Attorney General later insisted that it remains unlawful to deliver decisions late. “The truth is, every segment of our population can proffer what they consider justifiable reasons for not complying with the law. However, if it is not a reason provided for by the law, such non-compliance would be unlawful. The Judiciary would so pronounce, and rightfully so,” he said at the weekend.

Ms George-Wiltshire last week said, ““Is not like we’re sitting down here twiddling our thumbs. No judge in Guyana sits and twiddles their thumbs. None. We have been fortunate that people have carried the load without a murmur, not one murmur,” she said.

Even with the “valuable additions” of judges shortly, the Chief Justice said they, too, would be faced with a huge workload.