MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Chief Justice Bryan Sykes has reiterated his call for allocations to be made for the greater digitisation of courts even as he says it reduces the likelihood of corruption.
"Oftentimes for corruption to take place, it requires interface between service provider and the beneficiary of the service, but if you have a situation in which you are working largely in a digital environment. The interaction is reduced, so you have less opportunities to cultivate and develop those relationships that may lead to other things and that is how now you reduce corruption," he said.
Justice Sykes, in addressing a commissioning ceremony organised by Custos of Manchester Garfield Green for 18 justices of the peace (JPs), said there are two levels of corruption.
"You have the hardcore persons… If you tell them to come in through the front door freely, they are trying to climb over the wall. If you take this programme [of the event] and you say here it is for free, they will try to forge it, so for people like that you really can't help those people," said the chief justice.
"You have the other corruption now that's what I called efficiency based and whenever you have undue delays arising from inefficiency people opt to do what is necessary to get the service, because oftentimes what they are paying for is expedited service. They are not paying for any alteration of documents or anything like that," he added.
He pointed out that his goal is to make the court system efficient for all.
"What inefficiency does it begin to tempt honest citizens to think of inappropriate ways of getting the services that they need and to get the service expedited…One of my goals is to make the courts become efficient, so you don't have to know anybody [at the courts]," said the chief justice.
"When we digitise and become efficient then our governance will improve," he added.
Justice Sykes urged JPs to lobby Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck to develop an application to assist in their functions.
"Because when you go to a suspect and you are now examining, you notice that they don't give you anything to record your findings and the question is why not? It can't be too difficult to develop a mobile application that when you get into the police station you open it up [input information] and then it is stored and transmitted to a database somewhere, but there is no reason why that can't be done," said the chief justice.
He said the courts continue to reduce its backlog of cases and pointed out that the Supreme Court had a clearance rate of 78 per cent in 2022 up from 21 per cent in 2021.
"We are on our way to becoming one of the best in the world, but we still have a far way to go and how are we going to go now to become one of the best in the world and sustain it. This is now where the whole question of digitisation and digitalisation will play a very significant role," he said.
The chief justice is calling for the Ministry of Justice to focus on digitising the service of the courts.
"When you see the Minister of Justice [Delroy Chuck] you need to impress upon him the need not just to support the digitisation in words and thoughts and prayers, money does help as well, it has to be a sustained investment in the introduction development and the deployment of the appropriate technology within our courts and that is how we are going to be moving forward to becoming a First World country in terms of the operations of our legal system," said Justice Sykes.