Lawyer Jean Kelsick, President of the Montserrat Bar Association, said Tuesday that there was a need for a a deputy magistrate to ensure consistency in the delivery of service to the public.
Kelsick made his statements during the opening ceremony of the New Law Year for the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
“One suggestion for relief Magistrates is to have a panel of members of the Bar who are prepared to deputise when the Chief Magistrate is away. The Bar Association is available to discuss this option with the Government,” the lawyer said.
He said recently when the magistrate was off island, the “Registrar of the High Court was appointed as a temporary substitute Magistrate on this occasion.” However, “this is not the solution. As I have pointed out to both the Governor and the Deputy Governor it is unrealistic and unreasonable to expect the Registrar of the High Court to perform this function in addition to his duties as Registrar. This is particularly so during High Court sittings such as the one taking place right now. Meaningful steps should therefore be taken by the authorities in future to identify suitable persons other than the Registrar.”
The Bar Association representative also addressed Chief Justice Iain Morely Q.C. on what he called “unacceptable delays in the generation of transcripts in appeals. Montserrat experiences the same problem in both the Magistrate and High Court. In fact, a still unanswered letter about this was recently dispatched to the Magistrate.”
Kelsick also spoke about the High Court Registry being “without a second commissioner for oaths for several weeks now. This is causing both legal practitioners and members of the public considerable inconvenience. The Bar Association has written to the Government urging it to attend to making an appointment as soon as possible.
“The relevant authorities should understand that the Bar Association has a statutory mandate to represent both the interests of the legal profession and the general public in matters relating to the law. Therefore, when the Bar Association writes to the authorities drawing its attention to problems in the justice system that only Government can rectify the authorities ought to respond. If it fails to do so the Bar Association will have to consider the option of ventilating these problems in the media with the hope that this will encourage Government to address them.
Lawyer Kelsick also stated that Montserrat was badly in need of more mediators. “Mmost of the mediators we have are from the AG’s Chambers – those outside the AG’s Chambers rarely want to participate and quite frankly are not up to the task. Funding is required so that appropriate members of the private Bar can be trained for mediation.”