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The opening of the Legal Year 2009/2010. For the first time in history, the press was allowed to take photographs inside a courtroom. (From left) Justice Elneth Kentish, Appeal Justices, Sherman Moore and Frederick Waterman, Chief Justice Sir David Simmons and Appeal Justices Peter Williams and Sandra Moore.

 
   

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Lawsuits made simple

10/6/2009

Litigation in Barbados will now be less adversarial and more predictable regarding costs.

This is as a result of the new Rules of the Supreme Court (Civil Procedure) 2008 which came into force at the beginning of this month, designed to bring about “a more radical change in the culture and practice of civil litigation”.

In disclosing this yesterday at the opening of the Legal Year 2009/2010 in the new Supreme Court, Whitepark Road, St. Michael, Chief Justice Sir David Simmons said that all cases filed prior to October 1, 2009, and where the parties agreed, any cases filed prior to that date would be subject to the new Rules.

These new Rules, however, do not apply to Family Proceedings. Sir David said that he expected the Family Law Council would develop Rules to provide for management of family cases.

“The minimum content of civil procedure is that it should be fair, speedy, affordable, intelligible, efficient and effective. The former Rules did not meet those requirements.
That has been the experience of all courts in the Commonwealth which have been wedded to Rules of Court similar to ours of 1982,” the Chief Justice pointed out.

Sir David noted that it was time to change the way things are done, saying “a divorce from years of tradition was imperative,” while adding that the new Rules provided a simpler code of procedure for carrying out civil lawsuits.

He noted that under the new procedure, litigation would be less mysterious, less complex, shorter and more certain as to time-tabling, and more understandable to court users, including those persons without legal representation.

The Chief Justice pointed out that the two important features of the Rules were the management of cases by the Master (Mr. Keith Roberts) and the judges of the High Court; and the provision of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), in particular, mediation.

“The Courts are now empowered by the Rules to refer litigants to mediation,” he added, pointing out that under the new Rules, litigation “will be judge-driven, not lawyer-driven”.

The Chief Justice believed that this new procedure would result in faster processing of cases than has happened in the past, noting that he has stressed to judges that they will from now on be held responsible for the speed with which cases are heard.

Sir David said, “Under the new Rules, cases will progress according to a timetable set by the Master or the judge for the doing of various activities. This new paradigm ought to result in the speedier dispatch of cases than hitherto. I have impressed upon the judges that they will in future, be accountable for the speed at which a case progresses.”

He also advised that adjournments of cases be kept to a minimum. (HG)

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