Chief Justice Sir Patterson Cheltenham and US Ambassador Linda Taglialatela after the signing of the Project Implementation Letter today. (J. Carrington/BGIS)

A more efficient way to collect, distribute and reduce the wait times for child maintenance and improved management of case schedules are among the improvements expected with the introduction of the Court Case Management System (CCSM).

Chief Justice Sir Patterson Cheltenham said the CCMS would be introduced in all Magistrates’ Courts across the island.

It will be piloted in Holetown, District ‘B’ and Oistins, in the first instance, to test the viability of the system and because they represent a wide-cross section of society from which a “rigorous analysis can be made and appropriate inferences drawn to drive and enhance our efforts”.

Speaking during the launch of the CCMS and signing ceremony in the Judges’ Lounge this morning, the Chief Justice said historically, magistrates’ courts have languished behind the High Court and the Court of Appeal in the areas of reform and modernisation to the detriment of their overall efficiency and the public.

Sir Patterson told his audience, in person and virtually, that the project launch represented a clear expression of the judiciary’s determination to introduce a contemporary case management and a bold departure from the norm.

“In the new dispensation, which I am unfolding, there can be no forgotten or ignored relatives.  The march forward to modernity must embrace all the constituent elements of the judiciary of which magistrates’ courts are an essential component in the administration of justice.  The majority of those who access the justice system do so at the magisterial level.  The nature of that experience has to be improved well beyond what is currently on offer.  This exercise today constitutes a critical first step in that forward movement,” he underlined.

The Chief Justice pointed out that the success of the CCMS was dependent on training at all levels to equip staff with the requisite skills to deliver the expected services to the public. 

It also depends on a root and branch analysis of the existing strengths and weaknesses of the current system to ensure the proposed system does not falter unless exhausted reforms are simultaneously implemented, and sensitisation among the public and the legal profession.

Sir Patterson also said that other expected outcomes for the system when in use, include  quicker issuance of warrants and all court processes; a reduction in the costs of purchasing paper, and more efficient ways of tracking fines.

The Chief Justice thanked Government, the United States and other overseas partners for making the project a reality, adding: “The task ahead will be demanding and will have its occasional moments of difficulty.  Those episodes are not to distract anyone from the task ahead.  There will be pauses and occasional hiccups, but they must be seen as occasions to refocus on the mission – to bring to the public of Barbados an efficient and modern magistrates’ court system.”

Meanwhile, United States Ambassador, Linda Taglialatela, said the CCMS, as a performance enhancement tool, would align Barbados with international and regional best practices.

She said it would also provide greater transparency and public trust in judicial institutions.  Ambassador Taglialatela pledged the US Government’s assistance with providing technical support in case management.

julie.carrington@barbados.gov.bb

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