Lord Brennan to hold talks on local judicial reform By Wendella Davidson
Guyana Chronicle
January 10, 2002

THE United Kingdom, which has a commitment to maintaining common law, is continuing to pay keen interest in the implementation of judicial reform here.

To this end, past President of the Bar Council of England and Wales, Lord Brennan is due at month-end to hold discussions with key players in the judicial system in order to help push the process forward, British High Commissioner, Mr. Edward Glover says.

He told the Chronicle in an exclusive interview this week that Guyana's judicial system has benefited from much assistance from the U.K., which is committed to continuing such work.

Lord Brennan's visit will follow that of a three-member legal team of U.K. experts who visited during the last quarter of 2001 and had underscored the need for changes in some aspects of the local judicial system if the quality of justice is to be improved.

The team comprised Judge Martin Stephens, QC, who functions as a judge at the Central Criminal Court (the Old Bailey) since 1999, as team leader; Ms. Judith Lennard, head of appointments policy at the Lord Chancellor's Department; and Mr. Mark Camely, Director Criminal Business in the U.K. Court Service.

They were tasked with, among other things, a follow up on the findings of a report by U.K. Judges Judges Esyr Lewis and John Baker.

The latter were contracted by the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office and had spent April to July 2000 here assisting in drawing up revised rules for the administration of the courts of justice; drafting a training manual; setting out the standards for all legal personnel in the administration of the courts; and assisting as necessary in reducing the backlog of civil cases.

The reports of both teams alluded to serious lapses in the local judicial system, which they pointed out requires urgent attention, and had resulted in the delay in bringing cases to court.

Among these lapses are the issue of custody; the need for more judges and magistrates; and of critical importance, the non-production of law reports since 1975.

Glover also noted that the U.K., one of Guyana's largest bilateral donors with an infusion of some six to eight million Pounds Sterling in assistance, is on stream to repeat that feat.

He said that the U.K.'s emphasis is on major issues, such as improving water transmission and in education, completing the ground-breaking experiment in Linden and Corriverton to transform secondary projects to basic national projects.

Glover further explained that the key aspect is not just bringing universal secondary education to Linden and Corriverton through teacher training, computers, books, the building of new schools or rehabilitating old ones, but more importantly to emphasise that sharing such an approach can work.

It is also an excellent opportunity for the Government to use the formula as a basis for its own national approach in forging universal secondary education, the High Commissioner added.

He pointed out too that through the educational work being conducted in Linden and Corriverton, micro enterprises have blossomed, highlighting a specific case where a small fund was established through which small community groups are now able to purchase school boots and sew uniforms.

Other beneficiaries of British assistance include the Guyana Forestry Commission, the Privatisation Unit and the Iwokrama Rainforest Centre.

Glover noted that the main thrust of the assistance from Britain in the field of forestry over the years, has been to help Guyana to have a better idea of the forestry assets at its disposal and how these can be better protected.

To this end, several of the High Commission's staffers have been exposed to training in the field.

The Iwokrama Rainforest Centre has received in recent years about four million Pounds Sterling from the U.K. to help get its project on conserving and sustainably using the forest off the ground, he said.