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Court of Appeal undertakes major project to reduce backlog of cases

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Court Management Services (CMS) this morning disclosed that a special project is being undertaken by the Court of Appeal to reduce the number of cases that are currently before the court.

CMS said this is among several initiatives to impact the court in a major way this term.
In order to facilitate this project, one division of the court will sit each week, with the exception of the week of the court's sitting in Hanover in December. During this time, the Judges of Appeal who are not sitting, will be writing judgements, CMS outlined in a release.

It noted that President of the Court, Justice C Dennis Morrison, who presided at a special sitting on yesterday, made the disclosure to mark the start of the Michaelmas Term.

Justice Morrison, in commenting on the issue of delays in the delivery of judgments, said the court is aware that this was an inconvenience and assured the public that decisive action was being taken to ensure judgements are handed down in a timely manner.

The court is also exploring the electronic filing of documents to further bolster the project, said CMS.

Justice Morrison yesterday urged members of the Bar to acquaint themselves with the various Practice Directions which are available on the court's website and which have been issued to assist in guiding the court's procedure with a view to increasing its efficiency.
CMS said he also urged the Bar to ensure that submissions are filed in a timely manner in order to afford the judges adequate preparation time, as 107 matters are listed for the Michaelmas Term comprising applications, motions and appeals.

Another major development is the recruitment of new judges. Justice Morrison indicated that the legislation provided for 12 judges including the President and that, with the expansion, the court can increase its number by six new judges.

He indicated that the plan is to fill three of the positions by early 2019 and the remaining three by the end of that year. He explained that this was to avoid too great a shock to the system as it relates to the required administrative support, the release noted.

The President of the Court of Appeal also disclosed that the completion of the first phase of the expansion of the Court of Appeal building is imminent and phase two is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

In providing an update on the court's expansion, Justice Morrison noted that the relocation of the Registry would be done under phase two of the project.

He urged the continued understanding and cooperation of the Bar during the period as the court would be operating in two spaces. He indicated that the Bar would be notified in advance of the actual relocation exercise so as to facilitate a smooth transition, CMS said.

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