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New name for Petty Sessions Courts

Thursday, October 12, 2017

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Petty Sessions Courts are to be renamed Lay Magistrates' Courts under a new Bill tabled by Justice Minister Delroy Chuck in the House of Representatives.

The Renaming of the Courts of Petty Sessions (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act, 2017, one of two Bills tabled by Chuck on Tuesday, seeks to delete the words “Petty Sessions” and substitute them with “Lay Magistrates' Court”,

Chuck told the House that the change of name was a recommendation of the Justice Reform Task Force.

A companion Bill tabled by Chuck, the Justices of the Peace Act, 2017, seeks to strengthen procedures for the selection, appointment and regulation of Justices of the Peace (JPs), as well as to provide for the expansion of their geographical jurisdiction, allowing them to give islandwide service in respect of non-judicial functions.

Tabling of the two Bills follows upon recent pronouncements by Chuck that, as part of an ongoing justice reform initiative, as well as the changing demands of the communities within which JPs serve, Cabinet had given approval for the enactment of legislation to strengthen their role.

Chuck had pointed out that the minimum age limit for entry into the service of a JP would be lowered from 25 to 23, and the upper limit totally removed from 70, as long as individuals are still energetic, strong and capable of doing the job effectively.

He also noted that one of the new functions of the JPs will be that at the end of every year, he or she must hand in a one-page report, including their e-mail address, telephone number, whether they are still on the island and have any concerns, plus their activities for the year.

A decision has also been taken to incorporate the provisions of the Justices of the Peace (Official Seals) Act in the same legislation, and repeal that Act to provide for a consolidated regime with respect to the administrative affairs of the office of JP.

— Balford Henry

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