The constitutional Office of Attorney-General in Saint Lucia was established under section 72 of the Saint Lucia Constitution Order 1978 which came into effect on February 22nd1979. By virtue of Statutory Instrument Number 41 of 1997, the Office of Attorney-General was declared to be a public office effective June 15th 1997. However, constitutionally speaking, it may be either a public office or the office of minister. The constitutional significance of this declaration is that the Attorney-General may now be appointed to hold or act in the office of Director of Public Prosecutions and is now accountable to parliament in either or both capacities...read more (PDF)
“A New Era for the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court- the Road to Achieving Court Excellence” By CC Antonia Charlemagne
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court is no stranger to the tides of change and it has without a doubt, adapted to the throes of a changing world, changes of the social fabric of the islands it serves, an expanding population and the constant technological advances which if not embraced, leaves the reluctant behind in a time akin to the dark ages.
The luminescence which is the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court first lit the shores of our island Saint Lucia by virtue of The West Indies Associated States Supreme Court Order (No. 223 of 1967) which was incorporated into our domestic legislation by virtue of the Supreme Court Act, chapter 2.01 which came into force on the 27th of February, 1967. The other Islands whose judicial landscape would be shaped by The West Indies Associated States Supreme Court Order (No. 223 of 1967) were Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Christopher, Nevis and Anguilla and Saint Vincent.
The West Indies Associated States Supreme Court Order (No. 223 of 1967) was the authority by which the Supreme Court was established, its structure being two pronged, the Court of Appeal and a High Court of Justice. The West Indies Associated States Supreme Court Order (No. 223 of 1967) also created the Judicial and Legal Services Commission and provided the framework and structure of the novel Supreme Court. That was some fifty – three (53) years ago.
Today, we have a monumental establishment, which has moved and swayed and grown with our ever changing world, being ever ready to adapt to the waves of change but remaining steadfast in its core principles; impartiality, dependability and its aspiration to provide justice swiftly to the persons who knock on its doors.
The challenges from the outside looking in, appears to be numerous. The Court now serves nine (9) jurisdictions, with an estimated Seven Hundred and Fifty-Seven Thousand, Eight Hundred and Thirty-Eight (757,838) persons who depend on the Court for the resolution of matters, sound judgments and the dolling out of their notion of justice.
In 2017, Seven Thousand, One Hundred and Ninety - Seven (7,197) cases were filed in the High Courts throughout the jurisdictions served by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. At that time, there were twenty – eight (28) High Court Judges and four (4) Masters. During that same period, Four Hundred and Fifty (450) cases were filed in the Court of Appeal.
With a growing population linked to an increase in litigation, it is inevitable that the contributions to the Court by the Member States ought to reflect the demand placed on the Court. An underfunded justice system or one without the necessary tools or resources to operate effectively, makes it increasingly difficult for the population to retain confidence in the Courts.
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court has truly embraced the Information Age and have changed the manner in which our Courts operate throughout the islands. Today, our Courts are equipped with computers, audio recordings and tools to conduct hearings via video link.
The Judicial Enforcement Management System (JEMS) which has been in use throughout the islands since 2002, has now been replaced by the E – Litigation web portal. The introduction of this new manner of filing, serving and case management has (like the introduction of the Civil Procedure Rules in 2000) been met with some resistance and uncertainty by many attorneys practicing within the Court. However, it is expected that in time, the users of the application will not only accept the new method of filing and the advantages it brings but will also appreciate the giant and bold steps taken by the Court to implement this system, in jurisdictions where change is very rarely welcomed. The obvious consequence of not adapting is to fail, but it is not only comforting but also encouraging that the attorneys who practice in the Courts are resilient and will in time, themselves become masters of the E – Litigation web portal, as so many of us have mastered the Civil Procedure Rules.
Access to justice is a fundamental right of all those who the Court serves. While the Court continues to steer the ship on our behalf to calmer waters, we in our capacity as Deck Hand, Bosun, First Mate, Master or in whatever capacity we view ourselves within the structure of the ship, it cannot be overlooked that we are all ultimately passengers ourselves. We are therefore obligated to keep that ship steady even though we may not be in agreement in the direction in which it sails.