Montserrat became the sixth island in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court system to join it’s new eLitigation portal on Tuesday.
In a brief ceremony at the High Court in Brades, officials including the Premier J. Easton Taylor-Farrell, Minister of Education Charles Kirnon, the Attorney General and others from the legal fraternity got an overview of the new system and how it aims to greatly improve the way the courts function.
The portal was designed by Crimson Logic, an international firm based in Singapore with over 30 years of developing solutions including ejudiciary products. St. Lucia was first to be added to the system and attorney Renee St. Rose, partner with Fosters law firm there said they were able to test the system and their ideas were taken on board. She said the system was lawyer-friendly, convenient and logical.
The new portal is expected to drastically reduce and in some cases eliminate the significant costs spent to print and ship documents across the region via air freight. It will also enable lawyers to upload trial bundles at any time without worry of missing office closing times. They will also be able to search and retrieve documents virtually.
Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira noted that while the system allows for case filings to be done online the rules of the court have not changed. She said the launch of the portal is a turning point for the way that the court will conduct business in the territory.
As the ECSC is a model unique court because of the separation of the nine territories by water, it provides many challenges, the chief justice said. However, they have never been daunted by the challenge to link the courts whether taking planes or ferry and then the internet. The elitigation portal is an upgraded mode of doing business.
The other islands already on the system are St. Lucia, St. Kitts & Nevis, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Antigua & Barbuda. By the end of the year, it is hoped that all nine member territories in the court system will be online.
Training has been conducted for all court staff, the Attorney General Chambers, and private lawyers. The system, which aims to increase transparency and access to services for all stakeholders also allows for online payments, scheduling and alerts.
All lawyers will now be required to have access to a credit card to submit filings. Local court registrar Colin Meade said at present payments are being processed by the St. Lucia court office. Currently the migration process for all existing matters is ongoing. All current matters will be handled online. Anyone can access and search public cases once they have the requisite case number.
Access the portal via https://www.eccourts.org/