“We have instances of mislaid files and documents not filed appropriately. So this is one of the significant contributors to delays, because whenever the documents are not there, the case can’t be heard and it is pushed back for some further time,” he said.
“One way of resolving this, and the civil procedure rules already speak to this… is the use of appropriate and current technology to do the filing. Electronic filing will go a far way in reducing that kind of event,” Justice Sykes added.
Justice Sykes was speaking at yesterday's swearing-in ceremony to act as Chief Justice, hosted by Governor-General, Sir Patrick Allen, at King’s House.
The Acting Chief Justice also cited the practice of judges carrying case files to their homes for reading.
“It is completely unnecessary, as technology can solve that problem. The question of remote access has been done and can be done. We have one court here in the region that has already done it, and that is the Caribbean Court of Justice. So, there is absolutely no necessity for any judge of that court to be walking home with huge files and bundles,” Justice Sykes said.
“They have a system now that whenever documents are filed, there is an electronic notification that goes immediately to the judges who will be hearing that matter, wherever they are in the world.
What this means is that judges ought to have remote access from home,” he said.
Justice Sykes argued that “we are now in the 21st century, so there is no reason why a lawyer from Westmoreland or Portland should be travelling to Kingston to have a document filed… technology has solved all of that. So, hearings can and should be conducted using the appropriate technology”.
He also mentioned the move towards digital recording of proceedings, noting that the issue of storage of data and access to information has to be sorted out.
“Those are some of the matters that we need to think about as we go forward in modernising and improving our justice system,” Justice Sykes said.
Meanwhile, he called for personal efficiency from members of the judiciary, especially judges, to ensure effective and reasonable outcomes in the justice system.
“Being a judge is an extraordinarily complex activity. A trial judge’s task is to bring order out of chaos, to turn a jumbled mass of evidence into a reasoned decision that justifies the order or sentence imposed. Managing stress effectively, diet, exercise are all important components of personal efficiency,” he said.
For his part, the Governor-General said that Justice Sykes has a broad knowledge of the judiciary, its intricacies and is quite a skilled jurist.
“His training, practice and exposure will redound to his advantage as he assumes his position at a time when our country is at a crossroads and needs the active voice of the judiciary to send the strongest message that we are a country of law and order and nothing will hinder us from accomplishing our objectives of making Jamaica the place of choice to live, work and raise our families,” he said.
Justice Sykes replaces Justice Zaila McCalla, who retired on January 31.
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