Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) Chief Justice Honourable Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE LLD said the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the courts of justice to adjust to be able to continue to provide for the needs of the region.
Dame Pereira while addressing the opening of the virtual ceremony of the Special Sitting for the new 2021 Law Year said the sitting was in line with other changes the court has had to adopt in 2020.
“It is essential that the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court remains committed to working through any challenge by being a court that is not only responsive to the changes and needs which are taking place in society, but also adaptable to those changes and needs by devising mechanisms and measures for addressing them,” Dame Pereira said.
The Chief Justice went on to say that while quarantine may protect persons and states from some of the impacts of COVID-19, “Justice cannot be quarantined.”
Dame Pereira shared that despite the challenges of 2020, the court managed to deal with “an extremely heavy caseload,” thanks to the addition of a seventh justice to the appellant bench, and other information and communication technology offerings, such as e-litigation and the implementation of virtual or blended virtual and in-person sittings.
She expressed gratitude to the many legal practitioners, judges, High Court officers and other justice officers around the ECSC, particularly those working to continue to reform and improve the courts. The Chief Justice highlighted new sentencing guidelines, which were updated for many offences in 2020. Other reform measures are expected to take effect later this year, including revised rules for civil procedures and a new Code of Ethics.
Dame Pereira further thanked donors and other supporting agencies as well as the people of the Eastern Caribbean.
“It would not have been possible to weather the COVID-19 pandemic without you. Our commitment and pledge is to continue to serve you, the people of the Eastern Caribbean,” she said, adding that it has been her honour and privilege to serve as the court’s Chief Justice for the past eight years.
Magistrate Tamia Richards addressed the special sitting on behalf of the Virgin Islands and spoke about efforts of the Eastern Caribbean’s Magistrate’s Court to continue to “render justice fairly and swiftly” while minimising contact between persons who are not in the same household.
The special sitting was chaired by the Honourable Justice Brian Cottle.
Note to Editors: Image included
CAPTION: ECSC Chief Justice the Honourable Dame Janice M. Pereira addresses the special virtual sitting for the opening of the 2021 law year.