Chancellor, AG allude to betterment in judicial system
Guyana Chronicle
September 26, 2002

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BOTH the Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice of Appeal Desiree Bernard and the Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senior Counsel Doodnauth Singh have raised hopes for betterment in the judicial system.

The two top legal functionaries spoke of their expectations at a Georgetown Club function Monday night to launch the 1976 Law Reports - Volume 1.

Chancellor Bernard again pointed to the grave difficulties and constraints facing the Judiciary and the effects.

She said, while the number of High Court judges required is 11, there are only eight and the Court of Appeal is deficient by two members.

Ms Bernard said there 15 magistrates although 22 are needed and those problems are compounded by the failure to constitute the Judicial Service Commission and, consequently, hindering the appointment of other judges and magistrates.

As a result, the workload of the judicial practitioners has increased tremendously, she said.

Justice Bernard said people have not been appreciative of the constraints faced by it and, instead, were unfairly heaping blame and castigating the judicial system.

"Nobody is giving us credit for anything," she lamented.

The Chancellor also deplored conditions in the remand prison, reporting that, during a recent visit there, she found it to be in an appalling state.

However, the Judiciary is constantly working towards uplifting standards and, in this regard, several judges have undergone and will be undergoing training abroad to update their legal knowledge and skills.

In addition, a code of conduct will be introduced to further ensure that the integrity and high professional standards expected of practitioners are maintained and improved, she said.

Chancellor Bernard lauded the efforts of the Rotary and Lions clubs as well as all the individuals associated with the LRs project, especially Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms Roxanne George, who headed the editorial team.

Ms Bernard acknowledged that LRs are essential for legal practitioners but said being 25 years behind in publishing them "is not something to be proud of".

Nevertheless, she admitted that the latest publication is "like an oasis in the desert".

Mr Singh conceded that the printing is a Government responsibility but explained that, because of financial and other reasons, the Administration has not been able to fulfill that obligation.

He gave the assurance, however, that the some $4M owed by the Government on the project will be honoured.

Singh, too, commended the Rotarians and Lions for their collaboration in the venture.

The AG disclosed that the Laws of Guyana have been updated to 2001 through support from the American National Democratic Institute (NDI) and they will be available on diskettes and compact discs (CDs) shortly.

Touching on the proposed establishment of a local law school, Singh said the matter is engaging the attention of Cabinet and a Caribbean Council of Legal Education task force will be here soon to further deliberate on the proposal.

George announced that the remaining volumes of 1976 LRs and those for 1978-1980 have been compiled and are ready for printing.

She said, in the initial stages of the project, some difficulties arose at the printers, where some materials were misplaced and all the 1975 volumes are not complete.

George said efforts are being made to get another publisher and accelerate the printing process.

The Government ceased publication of LRs in 1975 and the Rotary and Lions clubs took up the challenge on the initiative of former Chancellor Aubrey Bishop, himself a Rotarian, who suggested the collaborative undertaking by the two organisations.

Mr Bishop, who also spoke at the function, said the relevance and importance of LRs have become more evident in the context of Caribbean jurisprudence, now that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has decided to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).