JURIST Project: A platform for collaboration

WHEN I WAS ASKED whether I would be willing to provide a guest editorial for the JURIST News, I was honoured and willingly accepted.

By now I am fairly confident that the purpose of the JURIST Project is better understood throughout the region. My experience with the Project, and its team – with whom I have developed excellent relationships – has very much been one geared towards strengthening the judiciary, the delivery of justice and creating a higher degree of public confidence in the justice system throughout the Caribbean region.

For me, the JURIST Project has proved to be a platform for genuine collaboration between the Bench and the Bar in Barbados. Opportunities like these are extremely limited particularly in an environment where the administration of justice is a major issue for all stakeholders and for those within the system whose fundamental principle is maintaining the rule of law. Now that is serious and cannot be trivialized. I say all this because like many other jurisdictions throughout this region, there is room for significant improvement in Barbados. Events such as the Civil Procedures Rules (CPR) seminars held as a direct result of sponsorship through the JURIST Project have served to create a space where both the judiciary and the Bar have been removed from the adversarial context of the court to an environment where common experience is established.

While the learning element of both seminars was fundamentally important, and in this regard I must acknowledge the efforts of all the presenters, the Honourable Dame Janice Perreira, DBE, Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC); the Honourable Louise Esther Blenman, Justice of Appeal, who serves as the Chair of the ECSC’s Judicial Education Institute (both of whom facilitated the first seminar) and, the Honourable Mr. Justice C. Dennis Morrison, President of the Court of Appeal in Jamaica (who conducted the second seminar), whose leadership, knowledge and engagement made the seminars a “must attend” event; of equal importance was the opportunity to engage with peers and for genuine dialogue between the judiciary and the Bar.

These JURIST Project sponsored events exposed the Bar and the Bench to the real excellence that exists throughout the Caribbean region. The quality of the judges and practitioners is often discussed but seldom experienced. The seminars made this a reality. The feedback that I received from members of the Bar who attended the first seminar was incredibly positive and during the seminar when I say that there was an excitement in the participation, I do not exaggerate.

The second seminar was also a significant milestone for those who participated and attended. Indeed it would be fair of me to say that the majority of those, if not all who attended the seminar, consider the Honourable Mr. Justice C. Dennis Morrison, an adopted son of Barbados. Again the feedback was tremendous and I am constantly asked when the next seminar will be held.

For me, the Bar and also for the judiciary in Barbados, the participation and support provided through and by the JURIST Project was absolutely critical in making these events the success that they were. The interface with other Caribbean jurists instilled a degree of awareness that within the Caribbean there is a dynamic and developing jurisprudence that stands equal to and on par with other common law jurisdictions.

Barbados remains one of the original joining members of the CCJ. The existence of the JURIST Project, its aims and the support it is providing to judiciaries throughout the Caribbean and within Barbados ought to act as a catalyst to other regions who still remain ambivalent; the Caribbean region is mature enough and academically equipped to continue with the development of its own jurisprudence of which the CCJ ought to be regarded as an exemplar.