Revamp of justice sector an urgent priority in the region

IT is very clear that the technology modernisation of the justice
sector is one of the most urgent priorities, but it is not the only
Word of this from Bevil Wooding, Executive Director of Advanced
Performance Exponents Inc. (APEX), a non- profit organisation
dedicated to the provision and delivery of technology-enabled
solutions and capacity building services to support the development
and strengthening of Caribbean court ecosystems.
Delivering one of the presentations featured as part of the Caribbean
Court of Justice Academy for Law sixth Biennial Conference Webinar
Series, held under the theme: ‘Legal Dimensions Arising from COVID-19
Pandemic’, Wooding sought to give an overview of what has been
happening across the region during what he described as “interesting
and unprecedented times”.
“One thing has become very clear to me is that we have hit an
inflection point. A point which goes beyond how do we deal with the
‘now’ demand of COVID-19, a point that starts a necessary look at what
are some of the imperatives when we return to whatever is the
semblance of normal that we are all working for.”
He suggested that the current crisis in the last few weeks, in
particular, have put the spotlight on issues that are critical not
just to the modernisation as it relates to technology, but actually
critical to the considerations around fair, transparent and accessible
and equitable delivery of justice in the region.
“In a way we are being forced to fast-track changes that many in the
sector have been championing for years, and as we are doing so, we
have to find and we are actively engaged in looking for ways to
transition to what many are considering to be the new normal.”
He noted that for now, there is a need right now to keep our courts
open, to keep people safe and to keep the justice system moving. It is
against that backdrop Wooding highlighted key areas that have to be
“The need to migrate from paper-based systems to electronic systems;
the requirement to procure and deploy technology infrastructure,
software, hardware and related services; the need to develop new
protocols for safety, for access to the courts services and to justice
generally; and the need to develop new protocols for how we administer
our approach to bring this.”
He said there are also requirements to update practice directions and
in some cases even legislation. “Of course, with all of the newness
that we are being thrust into, a real need to look at the issues of
human resource development and human capacity building. Underlying all
of that, a requirement to fund it all.”
The executive director explained that there are still some lessons
that are coming out of the rapid online tran-sition that also must be
“Evidence management is one of the areas where the conferencing
technology and ‘let’s get everyone online to at least keep
conversation going’ technology... the staff competency issues that are
still to be addressed...”
He noted that there are also issues related to connectivity to be tackled.
“Moving online presumes that we can all get online and with some
degree of consistency. That has not been the case in several
jurisdictions where the larger national bandwidth and infrastructure
concerns have impeded efforts to get everyone connected and we also
get issues where economic considerations have served as a constraint
to getting everyone access to devices that are needed to access online
To this end, he opined that while technology is necessary, it is not sufficient.
“But it is also clear that it has an important and crucial role in
playing in the ongoing post-lockdown world that we are heading into.
So there is this balance that has to be struck in terms of what are
the real requirements thatdemand our attention at this time, and they
range from everything from personal safety and well-being, to human
resources capacity, to new trial modalities and new conversations
between courts and components of the justice sector and internet
service providers and digital access.
“These are the things that we are seeing inside of the current
movement of rapid online delivery... These are also some of the things
that are informing our approach to what is necessary, not just in the
immediate term but in the long term, because for all of this to make
sense, the transition has to be sustainable,” he said. (JH)

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