St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The second High Court Chamber at the Sir Lee Moore Judicial and Legal Complex was formally opened Monday (March 13), with the ribbon cut by Governor General Sir Tapley Seaton.
Attorney General Vincent Byron anticipates that a new judge will shortly be appointed by the Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Dame Janice Pereira to help make the new chamber fully operation by April.
The facility will however be used from this week, accommodating the sitting of the OECS appeals court, the Attorney General has explained.
Chief Justice Pereira at the opening said having an additional High Court Chamber in the Federation is a significant development.
“With the provision of this second court facility the people of St Christopher in particular will be able to enjoy year round criminal sessions as well as year round civil sessions as both high courts will be operating on the same legal calendar. An additional judicial officer will shortly be assigned to conduct trials and other hearings in this new facility. Additionally I am assured that all necessary staffing and court equipment are virtually in place, thus for all intents and purposes this new additional court facility is ready for business complete with all equipment for the use of modern technology including hearings by video and teleconference. In every respect it is intended to be a model modern court.”
Resident Judge, Justice Trevor Ward has welcomed the new facility.
“The new court is build to modern standards with all the amenities that will facilitate efficient and comfortable transaction of business for all court users. The judiciary gives its commitment to match the quality of justice dispensed with the physical standard of the physical facility.”
Attorney General Byron was praised for his efforts in ensuring that the new court materialized.
He told the opening of the court that an increasing number of litigants can expect to have their matters heard.
“There is ever increasing use of the court system to resolve disputes. Our new court offers a way to serve the increasing use of litigants and they will have their matters dispensed of we believe in a fair and efficient and we believe a more prompt manner now with the coming into being our new court. A new court has been prepared to assist both judges and lawyers to further this objective of access as well as efficiency.”
A job well done, that was the sentiment expressed by the Bar Association.
Its representative, Attorney Keisha Spence also indicated that there was more work to be done.
“We look forward to matters especially criminal matters being disposed of with less delay and an easing of the workload of the single judge who now sits in the circuit. We also welcome the new courtroom because we see it as another step in the modernization of the court system and dispensation of justice in the federation. With the opening of the courtroom we look forward to the welcoming of a second judge in short order, we also look towards the strengthening of the requisite support staff that will truly reduce the current delays in the disposing of matters. We are therefore hopeful that transcripts and orders will be delivered in a more timely manner. In looking to the future we hope that the opening of the land registry will be made a separate registry from the high court registry. We hope that one day, sooner rather than later, we will open a family court, a juvenile court and a commercial court, where litigants can access justice in a timely and more comfortable manner.”
The court, at the request of Chief Justice Pereira, held a minute’s silence in honour of former Governor Sir Probyn Inniss, who died on the weekend.
Dignitaries at the court opening included Prime Minister Timothy Harris and Speaker of Parliament Michael Perkins.
A large contingent of lawyers was present at the function, as was the police high command and Fire Department officials.