Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Honourable Vincent Byron Jr., said that St. Kitts and Nevis has successfully navigated significant challenges to the legal system posed by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years, and has ensured that the administration of justice remains alive and well.
The message was communicated during an address for the Virtual Opening of the Law Year 2022 on Tuesday, January 11, 2022. The virtual opening was hosted by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) and featured presentations from representatives of member states.
Minister Byron Jr. noted that the Government provided greater access to technology and technological tools to ensure that COVID-related disruptions to the court were minimized. As a result, Magistrate Court hearings were facilitated by Zoom, while the ECSC e-Litigation Portal has been very useful in the filing of court documents, scheduling hearings, and facilitating online searches.
He also highlighted several notable achievements that took place in the twin-island Federation in 2021. These include the opening of the new Court Annex of the Sir Lee L. Moore Judicial and Legal Complex named in honour of Governor-General Sir S. W. Tapley Seaton, as well as the relocation of the High Court Registry and Intellectual Property Office to a permanent home.
Honourable Byron Jr. said that the Government places a high value on the rule of law.
“The Court remains an integral part of our nation-state which strives every day to live up to its mission statement to serve its member states by providing access to a system of justice that is accountable and independent and administered by officers in a prompt, fair, efficient and effective manner,” the Attorney General stated. “We are cognizant of the contribution that the judiciary makes to the socio-economic development of our countries and we are firm in the knowledge that the judicial branch is an essential guardian and a vital enforcer of those fundamental principles enshrined in the democracies.”
AG Byron Jr. added that jury trials were likely to increase in the near law year in St. Kitts and Nevis, given the high vaccination rate of the population. He indicated that digital reforms will continue within the legal system and are likely to remain in place even after the pandemic.
Honourable Byron Jr. ended by wishing the court a productive 2022.