Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 11, 2018 – All is not well in the running of the High Court in St. Kitts and Nevis and the lax operation has resulted in a denial of access to justice.
That is the view of Her Ladyship, The Hon. Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE, Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court who has stated publicly that the bulk of pending appeals from the High Court in St. Kitts and Nevis are not progressing for the lack of transcripts,
In her address to mark the recent opening of the 2018/2019 Law Year at the Lee Llewellyn Moore Judicial and Legal Services Complex in St. Kitts, the Chief Justice spoke of the “frustrations currently experienced by litigants and practitioners, as well as judges, with the current incapacity of the court offices across many Member States to produce transcripts of court proceedings. This deficiency cannot be overstated.”
“Here in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis there is a list of pending appeals – the bulk from the High Court – which are not progressing for the lack of transcripts,” said the Chief Justice, who added that St. Kitts and Nevis is not alone.
“In some other States – St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Grenada – the story is much the same and, in some cases, worse,” she said.
Chief Justice Pereira said transcripts of court proceedings are vital to the appellate process in the bulk of cases.
“This current incapacity has been rendered so by the failure of many Governments to provide the courts with the needed personnel and equipment for the production of transcripts. Pleas have been made by me directly to the Governments. I have had discussions with governmental officials on these shortcomings, particularly in those States where the resultant delays in the ability of litigants to prosecute their appeals have become especially troubling. These failures are threatening and, in some cases, have resulted in a denial of access to justice. The ability to use audio transcripts or the production of real time transcripts by the installation and use of modern equipment for this purpose provides a solution to this vexing and troubling problem,” the Chief Justice said.
She is of the view that the lasting benefits of all these measures are self-evident.
“They are all aimed at achieving one objective: proper access to justice and justice delivery. If justice is not properly accessible at the bottom levels of the justice system, then there can be no accessibility at any level of the justice system. Access to justice is not calibrated to flow from the top down but from the bottom up,” said Chief Justice Pereira, as she used the public opportunity “again to urge the Governments of the Member States and Territories to support the Court in these initiatives in order to improve for its people, their ability to access justice and ensure a better quality of justice delivery.”
The Registrar of the High Court in St. Kitts and Nevis is Mrs. Janine Harris-Lake, a sister of the Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris.