(CNS): The well-established Judicial Legal Aid Department and the launch of a fully-staffed legal aid clinic have gone a long way to boosting access to justice in the Cayman Islands, the Prime Minister said on Thursday Wayne Panton in his speech to the CARICOM Conference. chief justices and heads of the judiciary, as he urged more lawyers to support the legal aid system.
Panton, who is himself a lawyer, stressed the importance of legal aid in the public perception of justice and said real and perceived access to courts is important. People need to see that justice is “done without fear or favour, affection or ill will”, regardless of a person’s place in society.
“Speaking not just as Prime Minister but as a lawyer myself, I call for my legal colleagues to take on more of the burden of legal aid, which will go a long way to building trust of the public in our legal and justice systems,” he said.
For decades the government has tried to persuade more lawyers to engage in legal aid work, particularly in the criminal field, as the limited number of defense lawyers willing to do the work continues to decline. delay court cases.
However, very few are willing to work for legal aid rates. Of the approximately 600 practicing lawyers in Cayman, only about two dozen lawyers do regular legal aid work and even fewer are prepared to take on criminal cases.
“For us here in the Cayman Islands, the entrenchment of the constitutional separation of powers is a relatively recent achievement,” Panton said. “The separation of powers was not fully and definitively enshrined in the Constitution in Cayman until the Constitutional Amendment of 2016. It was only then that it was established that the executive branch does not had no disciplinary authority over the judiciary – except when acting on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission and only in cases of gross misconduct or inability to function.
He explained that all other disciplinary matters must now be resolved internally between the Chief Justice and the member of the judiciary concerned.
He said that the agenda of the conference focused on the sustained improvement of the efficiency of the administration of justice, its accessibility to all sectors of society and the improvement of professionalism and well-being. be from the justice system.
“I have no doubt that you will also explore ways to use advances in technology to further improve access to justice; a subject our Chief Justice is passionate about,” he told heads of justice systems from across the Caribbean and Bermuda region gathered to the opportunity.
See the Prime Minister’s full address below: