CCJ MATTERS – AUGUST 2017

27 Jul 2017

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YOUR MONTHLY NEWS AND UPDATES ABOUT THE CCJ – August 2017


 

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

The Right Honourable Sir Dennis Byron, President of the Caribbean Court of Justice

Dear Readers,

Justice in the Caribbean continues to evolve, in July I was invited to give the address at the installation of the President of the Rotary Club of St. Andrew in Jamaica.  The club is championing alternative dispute resolution as its major project for the year. My speech looked at the importance of integrating alternative dispute resolution methods both as a preventative measure and within the justice system. I am exceedingly grateful for the club’s President, Mrs. Jemelia Davis for giving me that opportunity to share my thoughts on the subject.

 

The Caribbean Court of Justice closed its judicial year on 31st July 2017 and I am particularly proud of the record of the court this year. This month’s Registry Report will provide more details about court matters from July and future issues of the newsletter will give information about the Court’s performance over the year.  This month’s feature on CCJ employees introduces our Security and Logistics Manager, Mr. Maurice Piggott who joined the court in 2015. Our featured article provides information on CAJO’s 5th Biennial Conference.  We are looking forward to an enlightening and thought-provoking conference in Curaçao in September.

 

We have added a regional news feature, which this month features news from the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.  The Court is celebrating 50 years and I was pleased to celebrate with them at a gala dinner in St. Lucia recently. One reader suggested that we include a feature that would provide insight into issues facing the region.  An article on gender issues, contributed by Anika Gray from the JURIST Project, is below.

 

Last, but never least, I thank you for your interest in the CCJ. Let us know, by emailing us at info@ccj.org, how we can make this newsletter more helpful to you.


People of the CCJ – Mr. Maurice Piggott, Security and Logistics Manager

 

Mr. Maurice Piggott joined the Caribbean Court of Justice in February 2015 after a long and distinguished career in law enforcement and Security.  The Department is responsible for ensuring the inviolability of the Court’s premises and its digital and physical assets. He is also responsible for coordinating the transportation of judges and official visitors to the Court and works with the HR Department to ensure the health and safety of CCJ’s judges and employees.

Mr. Marice Piggott, CCJ’s Security and Logistics Manager

 

Mr. Piggott is a retired Deputy Commissioner of Police with the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service which afforded him exposure to vast training and experience in law enforcement and security both locally and internationally.  He was pleased to continue his career at the CCJ upon retiring.  He shared “having had a rewarding career in law enforcement, and being intimately involved in the criminal justice system and its various components, the role of jurisprudence and its impact on society is not entirely alien to me. The CCJ, as a regional institution within the judicial system, naturally piqued my interest. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the court’s team especially in light of the critical role the Court plays in the development of the region, not only in the development of its jurisprudence, but also in the determination of its destiny. Not to have embraced the opportunity to be part of such a historic development would indeed have been myopic on my part.”

 

Mr. Piggott is the holder of a Master’s degree in Applied Criminology and Management from the University of Cambridge and is a certified security professional.  He cautioned, however, the need for continued upskilling even while being at the top of your field. “The dynamic nature of the security landscape should neither be surprising nor daunting to any security professional. To be able to meet the challenges that would inevitably arise, one needs to be proactive and be eternally vigilant. Critical to such an approach is keeping abreast of the current trends within the existing landscape and implementing industry best practices. Training and re-training of personnel and the use of technology, I might add, are equally complimentary to any such initiative” he stated.


Featured Article – CAJO to Host 5th Biennial Conference in Curacao

The Chairman of CAJO, and Judge of the CCJ, the Honourable Mr. Justice Adrian Saunders. After a recent visit to Curacao, to attend the installation of the new President of the Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba and to attend his first planning meeting with the local organizing committee, Mr. Justice Saunders felt constrained to remark that he “has never seen a judiciary more prepared and enthused about hosting a CAJO Biennial Conference than the judiciary of Curacao”.

 

The 5th Biennial Caribbean Association of Judicial Officers (CAJO) Conference will be held during the period 28th– 30th September 2017 at the Renaissance Curaçao Resort in Willemstad, Curaçao. The Conference is being held under the theme “Innovative, Independent and Responsive – the Modern Court”. The Chairman of CAJO, and Judge at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the Honourable Mr. Justice Adrian Saunders stated, “our distinguished group of speakers, panelists and session chairs will include academics, judicial officers and some of the leading thinkers in their fields”. The Conference, which will feature over 20 sessions, will explore cybercrime, gender issues, the impact of social media, judicial transparency and accountability, performance measurement, in addition to other topical issues.

 

Support for CAJO is just one of the ways that the Caribbean Court of Justice encourages judicial education and reform in the Caribbean. The CAJO 5th Biennial Conference brings together the region’s Chief Justices, Judges, Magistrates, Masters, Registrars, Executive Court Administrators and other Judicial Officers for discussions aimed at ventilating best practices and developing new ideas and techniques to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the administration of justice. The Conference will also include meetings of other regional bodies including the Caribbean Association of Women Judges.

 

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles opens the CAJO 5th Biennial Conference as the first keynote speaker. Sir Hilary Beckles is Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, a distinguished administrator, and an internationally reputed historian. He has had a stellar career within the UWI becoming, at age 36, its youngest scholar to be promoted to a personal chair.

 

Dr. Ernst M.H. Hirsch Ballin is the featured keynote speaker on the second day of the Conference. Dr. Ballin is a Distinguished University Professor at Tilburg University and President of the Asser Institute and Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Amsterdam. In November 2016, he was appointed Honorary University Professor because of his exceptional track record in the field of teaching and interdisciplinary research. He is the first professor at Tilburg University to receive this title.

 

Justice Saunders lauded the Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, the gracious hosts of this year’s biennial conference. The current President of the Court, Madame Justice Saleh, heads the local organising committee for the Conference, while the former President, Justice Evert Jan van der Poel, is a long-standing member of CAJO’s Management Committee.

 

Full details of the Conference, including draft agenda, registration details and other information that will be useful for conference attendees, can be found on the CAJO website, www.thecajo.org.


REGISTRY REPORT – JULY 2017

The court year came to an end on 31st July 2017 after an active schedule during the month. During July 2017, a total of 8 cases were heard by the Court, 2 judgments delivered and 1 reasons for decision was issued. The 8 cases comprised 4 appeals, 3 applications for special leave to appeal (one of which was treated as the hearing of appeal), and 1 status hearing. 

 

The first court term which begins the new court year commences on 2nd October 2017. Currently, 2 cases have been scheduled for hearing during the month of October. At July 31st of this year, the Court had 4 reserved judgments and 9 pending cases including 5 new cases. 

 

CASES HEARD-  JULY 2017     

5th July 2017

 

 

Hearing of appeal

BZCR2015001  BZCR2015002

 

Belize

 

Criminal cases

(part heard)

(Consolidated)

 

Gregory August

v

The Queen

 

Alwin Gabb

v

The Queen

Notice of Appeal

 

Filed 4th May 2015 for Gregory August and 16th Dec. 2016 for Alwin Gabb

 

 

NB: Proceedings in Gregory August stayed from 20th April 2015 to 7th Dec. 2016. Both cases consolidated on 14th Dec. 2016. Hearing held 28th March 2017. Order issued 15th May 2017 requesting further submissions and for further hearing

Judgment Reserved
5th July 2017

 

 

Status Hearing

BZCV2011/002 BZCV2014/005  BZCV2014/008 

 

Belize

 

Civil Cases

(consolidated) 

The Minister of Public Utilities           

v

Dean Boyce

The Trustees of the BTL Employees Trust and Dunkeld International Investment Limited

Notice of Application 

 

Filed 28th June 2017

NB: Decision and orders granted on 29th Sep. 2016. Reasons delivered on 21st October 2016.

Trial date set for 18th October 2017
 

7th July 2017

 

 

Hearing of appeal

GYCR2016/001

GYCR2016/002

 

Guyana

 

Criminal cases

(Consolidated)

James Anthony Hyles

v

The Director of Public Prosecution of Guyana

 

Mark Royden Williams

v

The Director of Public Prosecution of Guyana

Notice of Appeal

 

Filed 25th Oct. 2016

 

NB: Record of Appeal filed 15th May 2017

Judgment Reserved
14th July 2017

 

 

Hearing of application

BBCV2017/003

 

Barbados

 

Civil case

 

The Commissioner of Police, Darwin Dottin

v

The Governor of Barbados

The Police Service Commission 

Notice of Application for Special leave to appeal

 

Filed 12th May 2017 

Application dismissed

 
17th July 2017

 

 

Hearing of application

BZCR2017/001

BZCR2017/002

BZCR2017/003

 

Belize

 

Criminal cases

(Consolidated)

Brandon Baptist

v

The Queen

 

Orel Leslie

v

The Queen

 

Tyrone Meighan

v

The Queen  

Notice of Application for Special leave to appeal

 

Filed 3rd May 2017 

Application dismissed 
21st July 2017

 

 

Hearing of appeal

 
BZCV2016/002    

 

Belize

 

Civil case

Progresso Heights Ltd

v

Pitts & Elrington

Wilfred Elrington 

Notice of Appeal

 

Filed 13th April 2017

Appeal allowed
 
24th July 2017 

 

Hearing of Appeal

 
GYCV2017/004  

Guyana

 

Civil Case

Rosemarie Ramdehol

v

Haimwant Ramdehol 

Notice of Appeal

 

Filed 24th April 2017 

Judgment reserved
 
25th July 2017                   

 

Judgment

 
BBCR2015/006    

 

Barbados

 

Criminal Case

Vincent Leroy Edwards

v

The Queen

 

Richard Orlando Haynes

v

The Queen 

Notice of Appeal 

Filed 27th July 2016

 

Record of Appeal filed 7th March 2017

 

Judgment reserved on the 4th April 2017 

Judgment delivered

 

(Appeal allowed)

 

 25th July 2017
 

Hearing of application 

(treated as hearing of appeal)

BBCV2017/002 

 

Barbados

 

Civil case

Katrina Smith

v

Albert Anthony Peter Selby 

Notice of Application for Special Leave to appeal

 

Filed 27th March 2017  

Judgment reserved 

 
26th July 2017             

 

Judgment

BZCV2016/001 

 

Belize

 

Civil case 

 Froylan Gilharry  Sr.dba GILHARRY’S BUS LINE

v

Transport Board

Chief Transport Officer

Minister of Transport

Attorney General

Notice of appeal

Filed 19th September 2016

 

Record of Appeal Filed 23rd Dec. 2016

 

Judgment reserved on 31st January 2017 

Judgment delivered

 

(Appeal allowed) 

 
 

JUDGMENT HIGHLIGHT -Speednet Communications Limited v Public Utilities Commission

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in December 2016 delivered its judgment in the case of Speednet Communications Limited v Public Utilities Commission. The CCJ, the highest appellate court in Belize, reversed the Court of Appeal and found that Speednet Communications Limited proved its case. The Public Utilities Commission is the regulator for the telecommunications industry in Belize, while Speednet Communications is a private telecommunications services provider in that nation. The Court ordered the Public Utilities Commission to refund Speednet Communications the sum of BZ$792,000, less the lawful licence fee of BZ$1,400. The dispute between the parties arose out of a difference in interpretation of the relevant regulations which set out the licence fees of BZ$100 per ‘channel’.

 

The CCJ rejected the view of the trial judge and the Court of Appeal in Belize and found that the term ‘channel’ could refer to either ‘voice’ channel or ‘radio frequency’ channel. The Court determined that the Public Utilities Commission, as the author of the regulations, should bear the consequences of the ambiguity and would therefore be entitled to only charge BZ$100 per ‘radio frequency’ channel. The CCJ noted that while this finding was not necessarily the technologically correct definition of the word ‘channel’, which could not be determined on the basis of the evidence before the Court, it was the most appropriate meaning based on the application of legal principles to the wording in the regulations. Access the complete judegment here: Judgment.


Seeing Justice Through a Gender Lens

by Ms. Anika Gray, Gender Coordinator at the JURIST Project

Ms. Anika Gray, Gender Coordinator, JURIST Project

We like to think that justice is blind. It is not. Ideologies, prejudices, and biases have an impact on the decision-making of those responsible for the dispensation of justice in our legal system. Ideas about gender, and the prejudices and biases those beliefs create, are pervasive throughout society, including the justice system.

 

This is not surprising. The beliefs about the ways in which men and women should behave are taught and experienced from a very young age. This type of gender socialisation impacts our lives in more profound ways than we often understand. Its influence on the functioning and behaviour of those who administer justice can therefore be hard to avoid.

 

In fulfilling its mandate to improve the administration of justice, the JURIST Project has adopted as a key priority the development of initiatives that serve to improve the capacity of judges, court personnel, and administrators to deliver gender-responsive court services. 

 

There are a couple of ways decision-makers in the justice system contribute to women’s marginalisation, reinforce limiting stereotypes regarding masculinity and ultimately hamper access to justice for women and men. 

 

First, notions about women being temptresses and men being unable to control their sexual desires, can influence how sexual assault cases are investigated and adjudicated. In cases of statutory rape, girls are often said to get what they deserved. Women involved in rape cases have to often prove to juries that they were not loose women and did not dress provocatively so as to tempt the man. In both cases there is an underlying, and rather insulting, assumption that men are unable to control their sexual urges.  There is little understanding that rape is not really about sexual desire but about the ability of the perpetrator to have power over the person being assaulted. 

 

Second, in custody and maintenance cases gender stereotypes also influence how men and women are treated by the justice system. In awarding maintenance for children living with the mother, the courts sometimes fail to take into account the inordinate burden that women face in child rearing. In most cases women are both breadwinner and responsible for child rearing duties in the home. The small sums of money awarded for child support reflects this lack of appreciation for the roles women play. 

 

And third, societal expectations about who should have primary responsibility for child rearing also works against men being granted custody except in exceptional cases. Oftentimes a man’s role in a child’s life is seen as confined to providing financial support. This reinforces the notion that men are not equally responsible for the nurturing of their children. It also places a double burden on Caribbean women, who are often saddled with the responsibility of bringing home the bacon and preparing it as well.

 

The JURIST Project, with the support of UN Women, has developed a three-pronged gender strategy to address the negative impact of gender norms on the outcomes in court cases. The three prongs are: (1) gender sensitisation training for those who deliver court services; (2) gender focused public education for the users of the court system; and (3) development of gender-responsive court policies and procedures to guide the behaviour of those who use and work within the courts.

 

In keeping with its gender strategy, the JURIST Project team is now working on two ground-breaking initiatives.  The first is the Model Guidelines for Sexual Offence Cases which is intended to encourage better management of sexual offence cases, ensure that survivors of sexual assaults (including children) are treated with respect, formalise sentencing guidelines for sexual offenders and improve treatment of juveniles charged with and convicted of sex crimes. The Guidelines are being developed in consultation with a wide cross section of justice sector judicial officers and personnel from the Caribbean region. The second initiative is the development of Gender Equality Protocol for Magistrates and Judges in five CARICOM countries.

 

The first is the Model Guidelines for Sexual Violence Cases which is intended to encourage better management of sexual violence cases, ensure that survivors of sexual assaults (including children) are treated with respect, formalise sentencing guidelines for sexual offenders and improve treatment of juveniles charged with and convicted of sex crimes. The Guidelines are being developed in consultation with a wide cross section of justice sector judicial officers and personnel from the Caribbean region.

 

The second initiative is the development of a Gender Equality Protocol for magistrates and judges in five CARICOM countries. The protocol will assist judicial officers to adjudicate cases through a gender lens. It builds the capacity of judges and magistrates to identify and address the social, economic and cultural circumstances that perpetuate gender inequality in cases dealing with custody, maintenance, sexual violence, domestic violence and human trafficking. The protocol is being developed in partnership with UN Women and the Caribbean Association of Judicial Officers (CAJO). 

 

Negative gender norms have and continue to impede access to justice for men and women in Caribbean societies. It means therefore that any attempts at improving the administration of justice must tackle gender norms that reinforce gender inequality. As such, the JURIST Project is committed to assisting decision-makers to be aware of, and sensitive to, the realities of the lives of those who seek the protections and remedies that the law offers. 

 

To learn more about the work of the JURIST Project, visit their website: www.juristproject.org


REGIONAL NEWS – Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court adopts Judicial Insolvency Network’s Guidelines for Communication and Cooperation between Courts in Cross-Border Insolvency Matters

Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE
Chief Justice, Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court

The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in the Territory of the Virgin Islands has adopted the Judicial Insolvency Network’s Guidelines for Communication and Cooperation between Courts in Cross-Border Insolvency Matters, which will be referred to as “the Guidelines”.  The Guidelines were adopted by Practice Direction 8, No. 2 of 2017 made pursuant to Rule 8(2) of the Insolvency Rules, 2005 and became effective on 18th May 2017.

 

The overarching objective of the Guidelines is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of cross-border proceedings relating to insolvency or adjustment of debt matters opened in more than one jurisdiction (“Parallel Proceedings”) by enhancing coordination and cooperation amongst courts under whose supervision such proceedings are being conducted.                               

 

The Judicial Insolvency Network held its inaugural meeting in Singapore in October 2016.  The meeting was attended by judges from ten jurisdictions including the British Virgin Islands.  During the meeting, the judges discussed the need for greater cooperation between courts in cross-border insolvency matters and produced draft Guidelines.  The Guidelines have been adopted by the following jurisdictions:

 

  • Bermuda   9 March
  • Delaware   1 February
  • England and Wales  5 May
  • Singapore   1 February
  • Southern District of New York  17 February
  • British Virgin Islands 18 May

 

The Guidelines consist of an introduction, 14 guidelines, and an Annex that sets out procedural issues relating to joint hearings between courts. The introduction outlines the basic aims and objectives of the Guidelines and encourages parties in Parallel Proceedings to consider the Guidelines at the earliest practicable opportunity with a view to enhancing coordination and cooperation among courts under whose supervision the debtor’s estate is being administered. The sharing of information and the avoidance or minimization of costs and inconvenience are encouraged. Where there is agreement among the parties they can make an application to the court to establish protocols or orders for dealing with the debtor’s estate.

 

The numbered guidelines set out detailed requirements and procedures for entering into and implementing the protocols or orders. The process is voluntary but once the parties enter into a protocol which is approved by the court they will be required to conduct themselves in the continuing litigation in accordance with the terms of the protocol.

 

The Guidelines also deal with communication between courts for the purpose of making orderly arrangements for hearings.  Where there are joint hearings the courts can communicate directly on procedural, administrative and preliminary matters relating to the joint hearing.  Communication between courts can take place by telephone, video conference call or other electronic means. Parties are entitled to be present or be represented during such joint communications and the communications shall be recorded. A written transcript may be prepared and treated as the official transcript of the communication. Copies of the transcript may be filed in court as part of the record of the joint proceedings. Subject to local laws and procedures a court may permit a foreign party or his representative to be heard in the joint proceedings.

 

The Guidelines make provision for the recognition and acceptance of orders made by foreign courts, and of the laws, regulations, and practices of general application relating to proceedings in other jurisdictions, unless there is a proper objection on valid grounds. The annex sets out in greater detail the procedures in the numbered Guidelines relating to joint hearings in those cases in which it is decided to hold a joint hearing.

 

The Guidelines were implemented following wide consultation in BVI. They are a bold and welcome attempt at minimizing the costs, inconvenience and expense of acrimonious litigation between parties vying for a greater share of a debtor’s estate where the estate is located in more than one country. They represent another step in the processes started by the courts of ensuring that as far as practicable and as permitted by law a debtor’s estate is distributed among the creditors in the most equitable manner and with the greatest benefit to the general body of creditors. Use of the Guidelines is a voluntary process. When they are adopted there is a real likelihood that all interested parties will reap greater benefits from the estate.

 

If implementation of the Guidelines in the Territory of the Virgin Islands is successful, it is anticipated that consideration will be given to adopting them in other States and Territories of the Eastern Caribbean. For more information about the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, visit their website at www.eccourts.org