President David Granger said that the construction of the new wing of the High Court of the Supreme Court of Judicature is an investment that stands as testimony to the government’s commitment to improving access to justice; noting that it will help to overcome the cost and complexity of litigation by providing access to specialised courts such as the civil, commercial, family and land courts, to deal with specialised cases.
According to a government release, the Head of State made these remarks at the commissioning ceremony of the said wing which was held today at the Victoria Law Courts on Avenue of the Republic and Charlotte Street, Georgetown.
The President explained that equality before the law and equal protection under the law, which is protected under Article 149 (D) (1) of the Constitution of Guyana, can be guaranteed to citizens only where there is access to justice.
“Access to justice ensures that citizens’ rights are protected, especially the right to a fair trial within a reasonable time; citizens can be heard, can exercise their rights and challenge discrimination; costs can be reduced by ensuring speedy trials and by the quick settlement of disputes… The opening of the new wing of the High Court, therefore, is the opening of a new chapter in our country’s quest to improve the administration of justice and to expand access to justice for all,” President Granger said.
The President’s contention was supported by President of the Guyana Bar Association, Mr. Kamal Ramkarran who said that “the opening of this new wing is only the latest in a series of developments which have transformed the face of legal practice in Guyana. These developments show clear commitment by the Government and the Judiciary to a significant improvement to, and delivery of justice.”
Chancellor of Judiciary (ag) Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards informed that the new structure is accompanied by the new Civil Procedure Rules and the Family Proceedings and Procedure Rules. These new regimes are aimed at expediting hearings which would lead to faster disposal of cases. “Since these new rules have been implemented, within the last five months, we have to date 1,258 cases being filed and almost half of these cases have been disposed of already,” the Ministry of the Presidency quoted Cummings-Edwards as saying.
The new wing comprises three civil courts and the Land Court, which was housed in the Maraj Building on Charlotte and King Streets before moving to Brickdam.
Justice Cummings-Edwards said that the new wing has allowed for all of the divisions of the High Court to be housed at one location.
The Acting Chancellor informed that the vision for the construction of this new wing was initiated by former Chancellor of the Judiciary Justice Carl Singh. She even suggested that the wing be named ‘Chancellor Carl Singh’s Wing’.
Justice Cummings-Edwards also informed that plans are afoot to create an ‘E-Judiciary’, whereby all of its operations are digitized. She said that this will further improve access, delivery and dispensation of justice, the MoTP said.