Tales from the Courts – The Record of Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson Part XVI
Original blog posted 2.43AM 15/08/13 – Updated 6.44PM 15/08/13
Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson is reported in the Nation as having stated that he will shortly start to throw out old cases. It is now two years since Sir Marston, amid much controversy, took over the role of Chief Justice of Barbados, and delivered promises of what he would do to revive the justice system. To date, all we have had from him are press photos of him attending various functions and a lot of non-specific pronouncements of what he intends to do which, like most political manifestos, remain un-fulfilled, largely because he seems to operate with a ‘vote-grabbing’ mindset.
BU has a few questions for the Chief Justice that we urge media (AirBourne?) to ask. Of course, BU’s readers will realise that these questions are largely (but not solely) rhetorical.
Q: How many cases are there before the High Court on which judgements are awaited for a period of time in excess of six months?
Q: How many old cases are there that have been settled out of court and on which no certificates of satisfaction have been filed by the counsel whose duty it was to so file them AND/OR having been filed, not had those filings reflected by the Registry (READ lost by the Registry)?
Q: How many old cases have had counsel on both sides write repeatedly to the Registrar and the Chief Justice over a period of years asking that they be set down for hearing? AND how many responses/hearings has this invoked?
COURT OF APPEAL
Q: Is it true that you yourself have never written a single PUBLISHED appeal judgement in your two years as head of the Court of Appeal?
Q: Is it true that there are over 200 cases before the Court of Appeal on which judgements are still awaited, some for a period of years?
Q: Can you identify how many such cases have judgements outstanding for a period in excess of 6 months?
Q: Is it true that the Court of Appeal works only a maximum three days a week and some weeks not at all?
We all have had the opportunity of reading the Chief Justice’s remarks made on March 9, 2012 and reported a couple of days later in the press, whereby he invited litigants who had been waiting for their cases to be heard and/or long deferred judgements to be given, to write or e-mail him PERSONALLY about them to bring them to his attention. The Chief Justice’s clear and undeniable implication was that HE would address these cases as a matter of urgency.
Therefore arising here are some questions to be put to the CJ.
Q: How many letters/e-mails did you receive?
Q: What have you done about these (if anything)?
Q: Has a single one of these cases since been heard/determined?
Q: Have you even bothered to read the letters/e-mails?
BU wishes to place onus on the Prime Minister and his government (and predecessors in office) for the parlous state of the Barbados justice system. The Government is far too quick to point to judicial independence as an excuse for it to do nothing. However, BU points to the words of one eminent international COMMONWEALTH jurist who, when asked by BU about the encroachment on the independence of the judiciary, stated:
“The independence of the judiciary, apart from the decisions in specific cases, is not unlimited, as judges are paid out of taxes paid by everyone.”
The Nation has recently published and focussed special attention on the words of chairman of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (BCCI) health and wellness committee, David Neilands. BU does not disagree with Mr Neilands’ contention that “The ill health of employees is one of the reasons Barbados’ economy is struggling to develop.” BU does not argue with this.
However the major reason is without any doubt the correct international perception of the complete and total failure of the Barbados Judicial System. This, above all, is the main and central reason why Barbados’ economy is struggling. Dependant, as we are, on external sources, those external sources are not prepared to invest or have anything to do with a country where the access to and delivery of timely justice SIMPLY DOES NOT EXIST or, if it does exist, requires premium payments to obtain. It is a scandal that anyone is required to hand over money to public service employees for doing work that they are paid to do by the taxpayers. And we all know that this is exactly what happens in all too many cases.
BU asked one of our most prominent (a very concerned and worried) attorney-at-law what happens when, as in Barbados, the justice system of a country completely breaks down. This is his reply the truth of which is all too evident in the Barbados of today:
“Once the justice system of a country fails, the moral and intellectual fibre of that country is gone and is replaced by CORRUPTION.”