To ensure that proper legal services are provided to the Government; to provide statutory services to the public relating to the public trust and bankruptcy matters; and to register titles, mortgages, companies, societies and other bodies as well as other documents, as required by the law.
Hague Conference…All family matters must be addressed in Family Court – Commonwealth Rep
July 18, 2016 Government, Ministry of Legal Affairs, News
Georgetown, GINA, July 18, 2016
The family law court jurisdiction should address all family matters and reduce the backlog of cases at the Magistrates’ Courts and reduce the number of young people being sent to jail.
Justice Abdullahi Zuru of the Commonwealth Secretariat implored the Hague Conference on Private and International Law (HCCH) to consider “reworking” Article 2 of the Choice of Courts Convention to “see how we can assist and protect children.”
A major focus of the regional conference was on international family law particularly the promotion of human rights. The first day sessions reviewed the convention on the protection of the child.
Justice Abdullahi Zuru from the Commonwealth Secretariat
The two-day meeting was held at the Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown. Justice Zuru said that all the discussion of the protection of the child focused on civil and private international law, but, the state has an equally important role to play in children’s protection.
Justice Zuru lamented the trying of juvenile cases in the Magistrate’s Court and opinioned that the recently opened Family Court should have jurisdiction to hear all family matters.
“Day in, day out, you see that juvenile young boys, young girls…involved in crime and they are taken to magistrate’s court and sometimes the magistrate’s court…at the end of the proceeding…those innocent persons are sent to prison,” Justice Zuru explained. He added that the young people are often times “hardened” by their next court hearing.
Justice Zuru who is based in Guyana, noted that the trying of juvenile criminal matters at the Family Court would also see a reduction in the backlog of cases at the Magistrate’s Court.
Justice Roxanne George, High Court Judge of Guyana
“Is it not our responsibility to think of protecting a child from this angle?” Justice Zuru questioned.
However, Latin American Representative of the HCCH, Ignacio Goicoechea pointed out that the scope of the Hague Conventions deals primarily with private international law that are a civil or commercial matter and does not try to “harmonise substantive laws”. “So juvenile justice is outside our scope and we cannot help you. We have to admit that the Hague Conference is not the panacea that will solve all the matters,” Goicoechea said.
It was also pointed out by Guyanese Justice Roxanne George that the Family Court is a high court jurisdiction. “In the context of Guyana, whilst we will be very happy to have the Magistrate’s court being included along with it as is the case of Trinidad, we’ve discussed and we know because of the size of Guyana…it’s just about impossible to have the family matters all come into a high court jurisdiction,” Justice George explained.
Justice George noted that these are “serious access to justice issues” that the country is facing, “and so things like maintenance and so on which are closer to home, the enforcement mechanism in the magistrate’s court is easier and more manageable for litigants.”
Choice of Court Convention could lead to reduction in civil cases locally – Commonwealth Secretariat Rep at Hague Conference
July 17, 2016 Government, Ministry of Legal Affairs, News
Georgetown, GINA, July 17, 2016
Guyana could see a reduction in the volume of civil cases before the local courts if it becomes a signatory to the Hague’s Choice of Court Convention.
Justice Abdullahi Zuru of the Commonwealth Secretariat on the last day of the regional Hague Conference hosted by Guyana, stated that by signing onto the convention, “local firms in Guyana can engage in business arrangements with international firms.”
The Choice of Court Convention basically seeks to promote international commercial transactions by encouraging judicial cooperation and the recognition and enforcement of judgement.
“In the event of any dispute arising in an area not listed under Article 2 (of the convention), the matter will be settled by the choice of Court Agreement which is in place between the parties. To a considerable extent, this has the potential to reduce the volume of cases before the civil division of our local courts,” Zuru explained.
However, Zuru cautioned that singing onto any international convention, treatment of agreement has no force unless it goes through the process of legislative drafting, law revision and reform.
Acknowledging the work of the Attorney General Chambers, Justice Zuru praised Guyana’s Attorney General, Basil Williams for his efforts to revise the laws through the establishment of the law reform commission.
“So we hope that when the law reform commission takes off and the Guyana government takes off, their singular responsibility of the law reform commission (would be) to fully get yourself involved in having to commence the process of getting these treaties on board,” Justice Zuru said.
Meanwhile, the other presenter on the Choice of Court Convention, Professor at the University of the West Indies Calvin Hamilton asked the delegates to consider signing onto the convention as a regional block.
“With respect to what this means for the Caribbean, we’ve got the possibility of either acceding to the convention individually as states or we can do as the European Union did, as a regional economic integrated organisation,” Professor Hamilton explained.
The Professor further challenged the Caribbean delegates to contemplate “our appellate jurisdiction versus original jurisdiction and complexities that are present.”
The Professor said, “Will it behove us, will it make sense to consider that matters dealing with litigation arising from the validity of the choice of agreement clause…should be managed by one court and which court will that be? I would pause at the CCJ (Caribbean Court of Justice).”
Professor Hamilton recognised however, that this may entail internal adjustments and treaty adjustments. “One of the things that it will do is it harmonises jurisprudence particularly at a time where we need to harmonise jurisprudence,” opined Hamilton.
This sentiment of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) signing onto the convention as a regional body was echoed by Justice Zuru.
However, CARICOM representative Sandra Bart noted, “Our system is not like the EU so even though the heads of governments would have endorsed a particular treaty, each member state individually does the accession, ratification and so on.”
Professor Hamilton pointed out that the EU has the mandate to negotiate on behalf of its members. Similarly, CARICOM would need such a mandate which would be advantageous in coordinating a regional response to the Hague Conventions.
Participants of Hague Convention Conference treated to cultural evening
July 16, 2016 Government, Ministry of Legal Affairs, News
Georgetown, GINA, July 16, 2016
Legal luminaries from the Caribbean region and further afield participated in the Hague Convention Conference on International Family Law, Legal Cooperation and Commerce held in Guyana from July 13 through 16.
Korokwa Folk Singers (the folk arm of the renowned Woodside Choir)
The conference which was hosted by Guyana in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) culminated with a cultural reception for participants at the Umana Yana.
All the performances by the artistes depicted Guyanese culture – a diverse culture of a country with many ethnicities and religions.
Indigenous Wedding Dance
Some of the Attorney Generals that participated in the Conference are: Hon. Adriel Brathwaite of Barbados, Hon. Vanessa Retreage of Belize; Hon. Fernilia Felix of Dominica; Hon. Anthony Hood of Grenada; H.E. Dr. Jennifer Van Dijk Silos of Suriname; Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte Q.C. of Jamaica; and Hon. Judith Morgan of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Jewan Ka Nitra Dance Troupe
Chief Justices and other Judges who participated include: Hon. Sir Charles Dennis Byron- President of the Caribbean Court of Justice; Justice Lorraine Williams and Justice Gertel Thom, Representatives of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court; Hon. Justice Carolyn Tie, Puisne Judge of Jamaica; Hon. Winston Anderson of the Caribbean Court of Justice; Justice Allyson Ramkerrysingh of Trinidad and Tobago and Justice Dinesh Sewratan of Suriname.
The National Dance Company
Other participants included Hon Naftali Engelbrecht Judge of Aruba; Hon Margaret Ramsay-Hale, Chief Justice of Turks and Caicos Islands; Hon Ursula Luydens Judge of Curacao; and Justice Richard Williams of Cayman Islands.
Jewan Ka Nitra Dance Troupe
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams at the ceremony said, “I know this is the fitting finale for that successful conference…we will welcome you with the way and the hospitality that we’re famous for…I trust you enjoyed your visit to Guyana.”
Dubraj Tassa Drummers & Otishka Drummers
Parkside Steel Orchestra
A section of the participants taking in the rich cultural performance
CCJ to implement measures to reduce paper use in judicial process- CCJ President
July 16, 2016 Government, Ministry of Legal Affairs, News
Georgetown, GINA, July 16, 2016
President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Sir Charles Dennis Byron informed participants of the Hague Convention Conference that the CCJ is in the final stages of developing programmes that would reduce the use of paper in judicial processes throughout the region.
“That (programmes being developed) would facilitate that process in domestic jurisdictions throughout the region, so it’s something that we would like to encourage acceptance to,” Sir Byron said on Friday. The three-day Hague conference on private International Law concluded on Friday.
Sir Charles Dennis Byron, President of the Caribbean Court of Justice making his contribution at the Hague Convention Conference on International Law, Legal Cooperation and Commerce
He explained that the CCJ has tried to eliminate or reduce the use of paper in their judicial process by allowing all matters to be filed electronically. Additionally, all reports and orders made by the Court are issued electronically and the serving of documents is permitted electronically.
“In our situation, part of the reason for it had to do with expedition and cost, so for example, if we were receiving pleadings say from Belize, several copies would have to be made and sent to us by courier then you have the process of the registration, and it being returned by courier and then you’ll have the cost involved in arranging service… we have seen bills where the service of a document has cost litigants US$30 to 40,000 and the whole service process has taken a number of weeks including the process of courts,” Sir Byron explained.
He added by implementing those measures, the CCJ has eliminated the cost of filing and service, reducing it to zero and recued the time to five minutes, “So we think there are many advantages to be gained from pursuing this process.”
Former Home Affairs Minister of Guyana, Justice Stanley Moore said that Justice Byron illustrated and demonstrated one of the essential pre-requisites of a modern progressive judicial system.-“That is to say we are in the new electronic information age and therefore we need to make use of all the latest electronic devices. We have to keep up with modernity, we cannot be neo-luddites (used to describe those who are anti-technology). Therefore I believe that in the future, the discussion which we are now having will be a matter of history because the new norms will be the use and the availability of all the latest technological devices available to court systems throughout the world,” Justice Moore reasoned.
Former Home Affairs Minister of Guyana, Justice Stanley Moore making his contribution at the Hague Convention Conference on International Law, Legal Cooperation and Commerce
These contributions came as a result of presentations made on the use and application of the Hague Service Convention by Daniel Klimow, Attorney Adviser, Office of Legal Affairs, Overseas Citizens Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs, United States Department of State; Ms. Jewel Major, Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, the Bahamas, Central Authority for the Hague 196 Service Convention and the Honourable Ryan Johnson, Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, Antigua and Barbuda, Central Authority for the Hague 1965 Service Convention.
Participants were informed during that presentation that signing onto the 1965 Service Convention provides channels of transmission to be used when a judicial or extrajudicial document is to be transmitted from one State party to the Convention, to another State party for Service in the latter.
Specifically, the Convention allows member parties to effect service of judicial and extra judicial documents in a more efficient, time consuming and cost effective manner.
Opening Ceremony of The Hague Convention Conference -