A vigilant court
Because it is an old institution, some might think that the court is not in tune with the pulses of those whom it serve through its rules and regulations. The court is never stagnant, neither is it sluggish. Besides its substantial duties, through its judges of deciding cases and providing justice for all, it is always on the alert for lapses in practices and is ready at all times to explain, remind or clarify through Practice Directions, Guidance notes or Directions from the Bench to practitioners who might deviated from the straight and narrow way. In other words, practitioners are not only reminded of the right approach to the laws, rules and regulations, but also about standard behaviour and even deportment.
Part 4 of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Civil Procedure Rules 2000 (CPR 2000 or the Rules) lays out the rules for Practice Directions and Guides. The Rules give the Chief Justice authority to make Practice Directions. The Rules make provision for a Practice Direction to be given for a particular rule, but if there is no particular provision the Chief Justice may give the direction for the Supreme Court to follow. The practice direction must be published in the government Gazette. It must be made available to all and must be displayed in the court. It is not only for use by practitioners, but also for all those who use the services of the court. This means that all parties must comply, not only with the law, but also with practice directions. With regards to guides, the Chief Justice can also provide guides to assist parties in litigation.
Practice directions are named in the order in which they come. For example, the first practice direction for the year is No. 1 of 2000. Any number of practice directions could be given for a particular year. There is no limit as to the number of directions the Chief Justice can issue. Some years could be more prolific than others. The directions take effect from the date specified at the head of the document. Directions could cover a wide range of issues.
For example, our Chief Justice the Honorable Chief Justice Dame Janice M. Pereira, produced, Practice Directions No. 1 of 2014 with regards to the filing by electronic means of communication. Like most practice directions, it started with the meaning of terms used in the document.
Section 3 explains how documents could be filed via online shared drive. It states that “an appeal document could be filed by uploading the document to an online shared drive set up for that purpose;” Section 4 explains how it could be done by email and Section 5 shows other means of filing.
Judges sometimes give guidance from the bench when reviewing matters presented to them, especially where some deficiencies or some omissions are observed quite often. It could be written down and circulated to all practitioners through the court’s Registrar. For example, one of our judges of the High Court, Her Ladyship the Honorable Nicola Byer recently gave some helpful guidance notes to assist with applications for Possessory title. The guidance notes revisited section 7(1) of the Possessory Titles Act Cap 328 of the laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Revised Edition 2009, regarding the requirement for posting of the notice at the registry. The honourable judge called attention specifically to the fact that the High Court Office has to be notified as soon as practicable after the date of the first publication, so that the notice could be posted as prescribed by s.7(1)(b).
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