‘Judges must comply with laws on time limit for decisions’ – AG
One week after Guyana’s judiciary launched a revised code of ethics for an expanded list of judicial officers, Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC commended the move but said judges continue to disobey laws that prescribe a time limit for the handing down of written decisions.
Nandlall said the revised code of ethics should be made public so that citizens can ensure judicial officers act responsibly and operate in a transparent and efficient manner.
It is the efficiency of the work of judicial officers that Nandlall has raised issues with.
“They [judges] must ensure there is compliance with the time limit for judicial decisions,” the AG said during his Tuesday night ‘Issues in the News’ commentary aired on his Facebook Page.
Nandlall explained that there is a law that requires judges to give decisions in writing within six months of the determination of a case/end of the trial. It was Nandlall who had piloted that Bill in the National Assembly.
“That six months to deliver a decision is a matter of law and while it’s good passing code of ethics they also must comply with the law.
“Unless the law is appealed, rescinded, or revoked it is the law and must be complied with,” the Attorney General said.
In 2009, because of widespread criticisms linked to perennial delays in the judiciary, the government enacted the Time Limit for Judicial Decisions Act, No. 9 of 2009. The Bill was assented to in August 2009 but as Nandlall complained, this law is not being adhered to.
The AG, who believes the law is progressive, did not state what mechanism exists to ensure its compliance or whether it will need to be reformed.
Nandlall reasoned, however, that judges are part of the system that punishes people who break the laws; he said it is a reasonable expectation that they also must comply with the laws that govern the judiciary in full.
“The law is not being complied with… I talk to people in the streets and they tell you how long they are waiting… I have no control over the pace at which the judiciary works and the most I can do is what I’m doing now, calling for compliance with laws of the land,” he added.
In 2014, former President Donald Ramotar had issued an Order to increase the complement of judges so as to assist with judicial delays.
This law on a time limit is part of a chain of measures designed to bring dispatch and expediency to the administration of justice such as an alternative dispute resolution, mediation process, plea bargaining and paper committals.
The law provides a mechanism for the removal of a judge from office although judges enjoy high security of tenure under the Constitution.