Friday 20 October, 2017

Petty Sessions Courts going out, Lay Magistrates’ Courts coming in

Justice Minister, Delroy Chuck

Justice Minister, Delroy Chuck

The Petty Sessions Courts are to be no more, says Justice Minister, Delroy Chuck.

The courts are to be renamed the Lay Magistrates' Courts under a new Bill that was tabled by Chuck in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The Renaming of the Courts of Petty Sessions (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act, 2017, was one of two Bills that were tabled by the minister on the day, in an effort to change the name of the courts and also strengthen the procedures for the selection, appointment and regulation of Justices of the Peace (JPs) generally.

The Justices of the Peace Act, 2017, also seeks to provide for the expansion of the geographical jurisdiction of JPs, in allowing them to give island-wide service in respect of non-judicial functions.

Chuck said the proposed name change for the court was a recommendation of the Justice Reform Task Force.

The tabling of the two Bills followed recent announcements from Chuck that under the ongoing justice reform initiative, in recognition of the changing needs and demands of the communities within which JPs serve, the Cabinet had given approval for the enactment of legislation to strengthen their roles.

For example, Chuck had indicated that the minimum age for entry into the service of a JP is to be lowered from 25 to 23 years, and the upper limit of 70 years completely removed, once the applicable individuals are considered to be still strong and capable of doing the job effectively.

He also said that JPs will be required to submit one-page reports annually, with their contact details and locations, as well as an outline of their activities over the year.