Opposition Member of Parliament Edmund Hinkson is recommending that attorneys be fined for court delays, and gratuities withheld from judges who retire without issuing decisions on cases which they heard.
The Member of Parliament for St James North made these calls in the House of Assembly Tuesday during his contribution to the debate on the Magistrate’s Courts (Amendment) Bill 2016.
The amendment proposes “to make better provision for committal proceedings under the Act by requiring the general use of written statements rather than the general use of oral evidence and depositions, and to provide for related matters”.
Hinkson, a lawyer for over 30 years, complained that court cases were taking too long to be heard and settled.
He asked members of the Lower House, “What are we doing as the political leaders of this country to alleviate the tremendous amount of time-wasting involved in the process of court in this country, whether at Magistrate’s Court level . . . or any level?”
Hinkson also spoke about the “culture of adjournments” that plagued the court system, recommending penalties for those responsible for the postponements.
“We have to get rid of this culture of adjournments . . . . Judges ought not to be giving adjournments as a matter of course like that. They should be backed by penalties paid by the attorneys-at-law involved if the case merits itself.”
Making reference to legislation in Guyana which compels judges to give decisions within six months of the end of a hearing, the Opposition legislator said it was time Barbados did the same.
“The time has come for this Government to bring before this Parliament a Limitation of Time Period for Rendering Judicial Decisions Act. There is absolutely no reason why someone trained to be a judge cannot give an oral decision as soon as a case is finished,” he said.
“We as the political directorate have to lead the way, and if the judges won’t give their decisions, put some time limits on them by way of legislation.
“We see judges, a lot of them, retire with decisions outstanding, and still be paid their gratuity. They should not be paid their gratuity until they write and render all outstanding decisions,” Hinkson insisted.