For the first time in its history, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) held court in Antigua and Barbuda at a special sitting on Wednesday May 16, 2018 to honour its outgoing President, the Rt. Honourable Sir Dennis Byron. Representatives from the region came together to pay tribute and say farewell to Sir Dennis.
The President, in his remarks to the gathering at the High Court in Antigua, stated that he was deeply touched by the presentations and his time at the CCJ, saying that “it has been a wonderful experience for me. Even with all my experiences of judiciaries around the world, sitting side by side with judges from every continent on the bench of an international court, I am extremely proud to have been part of this outstanding court with judges of the highest calibre, work ethic and integrity. The culmination of a lifelong dream to be part of a final Caribbean court has only been eclipsed by the sheer enjoyment of working in an environment of such high intellect and quality.”
Speaking to the packed courtroom, the Honourable Mr. Justice Adrian Saunders, President-Designate of the CCJ, who also presided over the proceedings, described Sir Dennis as a “great judicial reformer,” recalling that “during the eight years that he spent as Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC), Sir Dennis transformed that institution in such critical ways that it can never again be what it used to be when he assumed the office of Chief Justice. By the time he left for Arusha in 2004, judged against several important indicators, the ECSC was arguably well ahead of its counterparts in the region.”
Echoing these sentiments, the Honourable Mr. Justice Stanley Moore, retired judge from Guyana and main speaker at the sitting, hailed Sir Dennis as an innovator, noting that “the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, led by Sir Dennis blazed a trail of innovation in this region which the other jurisdictions followed much later.”
In addition to his skills in court administration, speakers also lauded the jurist for his judicial work. Justice Saunders stated that “Sir Dennis’ judgements displayed a first-rate mind and willingness to go where no judge in the region had gone before.”
The Honourable Dame Janice Pereira, Chief Justice of the ECSC, also noted that Sir Dennis “has earned the respect of his colleagues as one of the greatest jurists in the CARICOM region and beyond.”
Mrs. Gloria Richards-Johnson, newly appointed Director of the JURIST Project, said “The Project has benefitted greatly from Sir Dennis’; vision for reform, his knowledge of research and projects in the area of justice reform in the Caribbean over the past 25 years, his commitment to introduce technology and e-filing into the justice system – all in an effort to expedite cases management, reduce delays, reduce backlogs and ensure comprehensive training of judicial officials.”
She added that his energy, enthusiasm and commitment to judicial reform and the improvement of court administration have influenced many of the initiatives undertaken by the Project and have made it a regional success story.