Tales from the Courts – Jumpstarting the Barbados Courts XVIII
A thought provoking outburst by former President of the Barbados Bar Association Andrew Pilgrim published in today’s press. He is probably right about the need to installed more judges on the bench, BUT surely it also has a lot to do with the quality of judges appointed. Of course not to be forgotten is the pressing need to streamline certain rules.
Regarding the streamlining of rules, BU’s legal fraternity offers the pre-trial motion as an example. If we were to measure against the Ontario model, it is routine for a pre-trial motion to be conducted via a telephone conference call supported by fax machine – see specimen of Ontario’s Affidavit of Service. In the Ontario model BU understands that in complex motions, lawyers may file “Factums”, which are statements of fact and law, which may include copies of cases to support their contentions along with their arguments. In this scenario all parties and the judge would have read relevant documents in advance of the telephone conference and are prepared to argue their cases. Sometimes the judge will rule on motions providing reasons for their judgements to follow as well as the order they give.
Some may find the the fact that a judge in the Ontario model will rule on motions, deliver reasons for judgements to follow etc. Often the judge will hand write the reasons and the judgement on the Notice of Motion itself and this is faxed by the court to all counsel – see specimen of Ontario’s Notice of Motion.
We turn to the Barbados model (used loosely).
By contrast, in Barbados, you go before the Court at the start of the trial. Without any notice, counsel on both sides will bring their motions before the judge, usually in limine motions and some of the motions will be quite complex. The judge will then adjourn the case to consider his or her decision on the motions. AND YOU CAN WAIT YEARS BEFORE THAT DECISION IS GIVEN AND THE CASE CAN PROCEED. In the Ontario system, because the judge has all the arguments in writing before them BEFORE the motion is heard OVER THE TELEPHONE, decisions are given usually at the end of the day on which they are heard, but no later than the day after, and at the same time, the court will propose a series of hearing dates for the case to then begin, with all documents to be filed by a certain date in advance of the hearing.
Back to Andrew Pilgrim QC and his opinion that more judges need to be recruited. This will not solve the backlog problem being experienced in Barbados unless the system is streamlined by making changes to the Civil Procedure Rules. Operating on the premise that one should not try to reinvent the wheel BU direct those interested to view the full list of Ontario Court forms – see links one and two.
We agree with Pilgrim’s final point that hearing of things like bail applications from Dodds by video conference, will not substantially speed things up as the CJ Gibson is suggesting. The key to fast tracking these matters lie in ensuring that all documents and a detailed summary of witness statements are before the court in writing, and for the judge to be fully seized of the matter BEFORE cases are heard.
Can this be done in Barbados? Hell yes! The question therefore is why the heralded CJ Gibson has not decided to forego the social circuit and allocate same man-hours to jump starting our wheezing court system.