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CCJ has best and brightest in the region, says US expert
An American expert is high in praise of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as comprising some of the best and brightest in the region. Making this observation was Jeff Apperson, vice-president of the United States’ National Centre for State Courts (NCSC).
He was speaking yesterday at the signing of a A Memorandum of Understanding between the Caribbean Conference of Heads of Judiciary, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and the NCSC which is expected to ease the backlog of hundreds of thousands of cases which continue to stymie T&T’s courts.
The MOU was signed by Chief Justice Ivor Archie, president of the CCJ Sir Dennis Byron and NCSC’s Apperson. Saying he has been working with the CCJ for about three years, Apperson described the court as “very importantly” situated in the region to help administer the development of justice.
“I have worked with the CCJ in International Association for Court Administration and also knowing the people and the judges of the CCJ as I do, you have some of the best and brightest people here in the region,” Apperson added. He said the best practices regarding court administration have been studied and the aim is to apply these measures via the MOU.
“The CCJ and the Caribbean chief justices are very forward thinking and I think what we saw today (yesterday) was a manifestation of their interest in making this region the best region possible.” Questioned whether he believed the CCJ could effectively replace Britain’s Privy Council, Apperson said he was confident of the organisation’s capability and efficiency. The missing factor he said, however, is harmonisation.
“We live in a globalised world and we work in an ecomonic world and a judicial world that was moving closer together and it’s important for us to regionally co-ordinate our efforts. “I think strong justice institutions in the Caribbean can only work to the benefit of the people because it will strengthen the investment opportunities. Justice and economics do go hand in hand,” Apperson said.
He also urged that while judiciaries must be independent there must be cohesion. During the opening of the 2011/2012 law term, Archie made reference to the backlog of cases in the T&T courts, saying if every matter went to trial in the High Court each judge would have do over 400 trials per year. “A clear impossibility," he said.
Speaking after the signing, Apperson, who has been involved in court administration for 30 years added, “I believe my administration can impact on the backlog of cases. Backlogs are a very difficult issue to administer but I do believe as we bring together the best practices we can affect the backlogs.”
Questioned by what percentage of the country’s judicial system was expected to be eased once the MOU’s measures were implemented, Apperson however, chose not to offer a specific figure.
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