Judiciary gets lesson in minimalist judgements
November 30, 2003
Chancellor of the Judiciary Desiree Bernard addresses participants at the opening of the Annual Judicial Conference at the Cara Inn yesterday. A seminar on Judgement Writing was conducted by visiting Professor James Raymond, (seated second from left). Al
Judgements are often muddled in legalese, are too long, poorly organised and inaccessible to the layman.
"I'm not asking you to dumb it down, but just to explain the concepts so that they are accessible to everyone," Dr. James Raymond told judges at the Annual Judicial Conference, which began yesterday at the Cara Inn.
Raymond, a consultant on judgement writing, conducted a lecture on writing minimalist judgements for the High Court Judges and Justices of Appeal, who were asked to remember that people need to understand that justice is done.
Raymond says write less and get to the point and to keep in mind the people they are writing for.
Judgements are written for an audience that includes the litigants, the lawyers, the press, the public and the court of appeal.
In fact, Raymond argues, such a diverse audience makes judgement writing a hybrid genre that needs to be both read and consulted, hence the need for clarity.
Chancellor of the Judiciary, Desiree Bernard, in her opening remarks, also told the participants that their judgements should be written promptly.
The shortage of judges in the High Court and cases which often drag on, sometimes for years, are obstacles which have led to delays in the writing of judgements.
Bernard, while mindful of the circumstances of the delays, was also cognisant of the principle that justice delayed is justice denied.
"It is understandable, but that's not an excuse," she said.
"Once cases have been heard, judgements should be written promptly."
Raymond's visit is being sponsored by the Carter Center and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).