Chief Justice promises to clear divorce backlog by end of 2019

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

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ROSE HALL, St James — Chief Justice Bryan Sykes has pledged that the backlog of divorce cases before the Supreme Court will be cleared by the end of next year.

“And so by the end 2019 it is expected that Probate and Letters of Administration, that division of the court, will be current. And the Matrimonial Division will be current as far as divorces are concerned. And, again, all of that revolves around the question of leadership... empowering persons,” Justice Sykes said.

Addressing the Jamaica, Bar Association banquet held at Hilton Rose Hall Saturday night, Justice Sykes promised lawyers that if they submit documents without mistakes then divorces will come through in four months.

“So what we are saying then, and this is a promise which I am not just making, but the Supreme Court, the Matrimonial Division, in particular, is making it, that if you submit error-free... documents, the divorce can be completed in 16 weeks,” the chief justice.

“Sixteen weeks if it's error-free. So no requisitions. From time of filing, you take into account the six-week period between the nisi and the absolute, and all of that, it can be done in 16 weeks,“ he continued.

The chief justice argued that the four-month completion period came about through a plan, crafted at his behest, by the deputy registrars.

“I have said to the deputy registrars, 'You have to rise to the challenge, you are the persons that are on the ground running these registries'... So what did I ask of them? I asked of them one thing: Produce a plan to deliver divorces in 16 weeks and the shortest possible time for Probate and Letters of Administration, and that is what they have done, and that is what they have committed to,” he explained.

“And so the point is that when you empower persons, and you have the ideas come from them, and give them the opportunity to develop and to grow, then you begin to get these kinds of results. And all of this without increase in pay, no additional staff, same difficult working conditions; but the motivation now is that this is their job, this is their idea, this is their plan that they are going to be seeing through. So with that, we should see the improvements come 2019,” Justice Sykes said.

Noting that “one of the areas of difficulty that we have is the divorces in Supreme Court”, Justice Sykes said that serious efforts have been made at addressing Probate and Letters of Administration.

“There has been a problem there, and that is being addressed, and where we are now is that we are in a position, and this is where we need the assistance now, of the stakeholders, of which you are an important part, the attorneys,” Justice Sykes argued.

— Horace Hines

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