Chief Justice Janice Pereira.
ANGUILLA–On Wednesday, January 13, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) started a new year for the nine member states and territories. Chief Justice Janice Pereira was the featured speaker at the event that was held virtually from St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Paulette Harrigan, attorney from Anguilla.
Pereira started her address by noting the effects of COVID-19 that has impacted every aspect of life in 2020. She said the work of the courts in the region had to continue although hampered by the ability to deal with cases in the usual manner. She said many of the courts were too small for social distancing and asked governments in the region to improve facilities. She said it was important for jurisdictions to discuss “judge alone” trials that are very successful and help to reduce the backlog.
All sittings throughout the ECSC were conducted virtually, she reported, and six of the nine members, including Anguilla, are linked to the e-litigation portal that kept the operation of the courts functioning. She gave reports from the various committees including those on civil procedure, code of ethics, sentencing guidelines, family proceeding rules, and court-connecting mediation. She said one area of concern was the unwarranted attacks on the judiciary and judges by the public.
Pereira ended her speech by thanking all those involved in the execution of justice in the region, including the judicial officers, court officials and judges, with particular mention of high court judges who retired last year.
A representative from each country was then given the opportunity to speak. Attorney Paulette Harrigan represented Anguilla and spoke of the many challenges over the year and the use of the latest technology. She said that due to the well-regulated court the move to virtual situation was almost seamless and she commended all involved in the procedure.