The Honourable Mr. Justice Sir Marston Gibson, Chief Justice of Barbados has made it clear that the operations of the court system will not go back to pre-COVID-19 times as the judiciary continues to equip its staff, to effect much needed changes.
Sir Marston was at the time addressing participants at the handing over ceremony of 54 laptops which was provided by the Canadian-funded Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening (JURIST) Project. The ceremony was held at the Supreme Court on August 17, 2020.
The JURIST Project has been working with regional judiciaries to address delay and backlogs which directly affect the effectiveness and efficiency of the judiciary to resolve cases in a timely manner and serve those who are the most vulnerable in society. The laptops will support case flow management, and court administration in the Barbados court system.
Sir Marston said while there has been much discussion about the issues resulting from COVID-19, it was his opinion that the pandemic has created more opportunities than challenges.
“I think it was Sir Winston Churchill who said never let a good crisis go to waste. I do not see this as a challenge but as an opportunity. The horse is now out of the barn and there is no putting the horse back in the barn. So, therefore, working remotely is going to be a part of the way we do business going forward,” he explained.
He expressed his gratitude to the Canadian government and JURIST Project for their “unwavering support” to the judiciary. “I want to thank the Canadian government for assisting us and assure them that we are going to continue to use the opportunity presented to us by the pandemic to work virtually and automate the way we do business. This is what it is all about, making the court more effective and efficient while working during a pandemic,” Sir Marston stated.
Her Excellency Marie Legault, High Commissioner of Canada to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean lauded the courts for continuing to function during the pandemic. She said the Canadian government through the Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) and the JURIST Projects were assisting countries in this region to navigate the challenges to adapt to a “new way of doing business.” She noted that both Projects were able to “think quickly and respond to see how best they could help and assist our partners with this challenge.”
Mrs. Gloria Richards-Johnson, Director, JURIST Project said the equipment will redound to the benefit of the courts and everyone they serve. She added: “The provision of this equipment to the judiciary will also assist the Project in achieving one of its overarching objectives which is to reduced delay and backlog. It is also a perfect example of what the JURIST Project is all about – partnerships and collaboration. We recognise that without the support of you – our valuable stakeholders within the local jurisdictions where we work, none of our objectives will be achieved. We depend on you to ensure that all initiatives we undertake are sustained long after the Project ends.”