Parish courts exceed case clearance-benchmark in first quarter 2019

Parish courts exceed case clearance-benchmark in first quarter 2019

Monday, June 17, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Court Management Services (CMS) is reporting that all parish courts have for the first time, since the collection of statistical data on court performance, exceeded the international benchmark relating to the case clearance rate.

This, the CMS said was achieved between January 1 and March 31, 2019.

Figures produced by the court's Statistical Unit show that the overall case clearance rate for the quarter was 103.46 per cent, which is the highest overall rate recorded since the unit commenced producing statistics on the performance of courts islandwide in 2016.

The unit said that the figures mean that for every 100 new cases filed in the parish courts approximately 103 were disposed of or completed.

The case clearance rate, which is an index of productivity in the courts, is used to measure the number of cases disposed of for every new case filed in a particular period. It also takes into account cases which could have originated before the review period.

The St Mary Parish Court emerged with the highest clearance rate at 162.12 per cent, followed by the Portland Parish Court with 137.01 per cent and the St Catherine Parish Court with 129.82 per cent.

The case clearance rate in each court is closely linked to another important benchmark of court excellence – that of trial date certainty, the CMS said. This provides a measurement of the likelihood that trials will proceed as scheduled, without being adjourned for future dates. The overall trial date certainty in the first quarter was 82 per cent, up from 79 per cent in the corresponding quarter in 2018.

The Westmoreland, Clarendon, St Ann, Portland and Trelawny Parish Courts had trial date certainty rates of 100 per cent for the review period while the St Elizabeth and St James Parish courts had rates of over 90 per cent.

St Mary, Hanover and the Corporate Area Parish Court (Criminal Division) with rates ranging between 28 per cent and 58 per cent had the lowest trial certainty rates for the quarter, consistent with the trend observed in 2018.

The largest proportion of cases disposed of in the first quarter was by way of guilty pleas, accounting for 54.15 per cent of the disposed cases in the first quarter of 2019. This was followed by cases dismissed at 19.44 per cent.

Guilty verdicts accounted for 5.72 per cent of the matters disposed; mediated settlements accounted for 6.63 per cent and not guilty verdicts 9.20 per cent.

Commenting on the performance of the parish courts for the review period, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, said, “while there is still a far way to go, based on the latest statistics, Jamaicans should be encouraged and hopeful that our judiciary is on course to become the best in the Caribbean in three years and one of the best in the world in six years as it relates to the delivery of legal services”.

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