In a reform initiative for the country's justice system, the Briceno Administration also tabled the another Court of Appeal Amendment. In this one, the Government wants to appoint more judges to that high court, so that a backlog of appeal cases can be better addressed.
The Court of Appeal normally sits 3 times a year in the months of March, June, and October. But, with the appointment of more judges, it is contemplated that they will be able to have more sittings. Here's today's debate on that topic:
Hon. Eamon Courtenay - Leader of Government Business
"Madam President, this is a short amendment to the act. The act currently says that the Court of Appeal shall comprise of the president plus 4 judges. That has limited the amount of sittings because every panel has to be 3 judges. The intention is to appoint at least 6 so that you can have 2 sessions or 2 panels sitting and running simultaneously. The intention is to try to remove the backlog of Court of Appeal cases that have built up over time."
Hon. Sheena Pitts - UDP Senator
"Any attempt to clear the backlog by hiring more judges is always welcomed, and so this bill is a bill that much needed. I wonder if on the other side, apart from or in addition to having simultaneous sittings with 6 judges, we can go even further to consider having a full-time Court of Appeal, as is the case in other jurisdictions in the Commonwealth. My only concern, Madam President, is that we invite into our territory on the basis of the best available legal minds, and with that comes with it the necessity to be able to remunerate decently those legal minds."
Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"The sentiments expressed by Senator Pitts are obviously on-point. I would characterize her address as one calling for judicial reform. This bill is dealing with an emergency that we're currently facing, and clearly, the expansion of the judges not only in the Court of Appeal but in the Supreme Court will be a part of that reform. I can assure Senator Pitts that the Attorney General is working on a much wider, systemwide reform of the judicial branch of our government. It will obviously take time. It will be subject to consultation, and eventually, it will end up here, where I am sure we will have a full debate."
This amendment has been passed by the Senate, and it will now go to the Governor-General to become law.