Queen’s Counsel and former Acting High Court Judge, Gerard Farara said there is no longer a backlog of court cases in the British Virgin Islands.
The seasoned attorney hailed the BVI court system as being far quicker than other jurisdictions in the Eastern Caribbean.
“I have served in different capacities in the judiciary both locally here in the BVI and in other countries that make up the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) as well as on the Court of Appeals, and I can tell you without fear of contradiction that the BVI really has no backlog of cases,” said Farara during the Honestly Speaking radio programme last evening.
He continued: “There may be delays experienced particularly at the magisterial level of the system but when you compare us to the other countries that make up the Eastern Caribbean court, the BVI is by far ahead of those countries in terms of the time frame within which it takes; from the commencement of the process or the filing of the case in the court system to when it gets its first [verdict] or even appellate determination.”
Farara made the statement at a time when the local judicial system is recovering from two category 5 hurricanes which smashed into the territory and put a halt on regular court proceedings.
He also made the claims amid concerns that too many court cases were being delayed.
Even local magistrates have had to implement an informal three-strike policy to help alleviate the issue.
The policy effectively mandates that defendants get served with a bench warrant before the fourth occasion that their names are mentioned in court. And if they are not served by that time, their case will be thrown out.
Cases in court for over two years
Within the past few years, there has been a number of criminal cases that remain before the court for more than two years.
The matter against Cayma Nibbs is an example of a case that made the three-year mark. Nibbs came before the court in 2014 for two offences but his matter did not come to an end until July this year when he was sentenced to prison.
Carlos Gumbs also has a February 2015 matter which, up to this year, was still before the court.
Other matters involving defendants such as Jamoy Estridge and Christopher Amadiz have dragged on for two years. Amadiz’s case was eventually dismissed for want of prosecution.
Farara, however, suggested that court matters like those as rare.
“There are obviously some specific examples where matters are delayed and there are many reasons for the delay of matters … But by and large, there is really no great backlog of cases in the British Virgin Islands,” the attorney said.
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