The Supreme Court in downtown Kingston has no more space to store files in civil cases. This has resulted in hundreds of files being stored at an old government building in the Half-Way-Tree area in St Andrew. A litigant who went to the Supreme Court Registry last week to check on his case told The Gleaner that he was told that he would have to come back next month because the file was off-site.
“When I queried why my file was not on the building I did not get a sensible response,” the litigant said. “I would really like to know why court files are not being kept at the Supreme Court where the cases are to be tried,’ he said. Digitisation When contacted, Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck said he is aware of the situation.
Chuck pointed out the government is pursuing policies to digitise court records in all the courthouses. He added that court documents take up a lot of space but digitisation would reduce the space problem as files would be downloaded from a computer. Chuck said digitisation is going to take a long time but he is hoping it will be completed within the next three to five years.
A court official explained that about five years ago when the old civil registry office at the Supreme Court was being renovated to house the Gun Court office, there was “absolutely” no space on the building to store some of the files that were in the registry. A decision was then taken for the files to be moved from the building to another government building but there are no immediate plans to have them returned to the Supreme Court.
The court official said when particular files were needed members of staff would go and retrieve them. Asked if those cases were on the computer system, the court official said no and explained that some of the files were from the 1990s to early 2000 and posited that a special project would be needed to have those files digitised. Most of those cases, some of which are negligence suits involving motor vehicle accidents, have not yet been tried.
Delay Checks today disclosed that civil cases from 2011 onwards are on the computer system at the Supreme Court as well as a few 2005 to 2007 cases. Civil cases in the Supreme Court are now being set for trial in 2026 and 2027 and the long delay has drawn condemnation from both lawyers and litigants.
One lawyer argued that efforts were being made to reduce matrimonial and probate cases but nothing is being done to expedite the other cases, especially where accident victims are seeking compensation. One of the litigants who has suffered undue hardships is 72-year-old government pensioner Doril Barclay whose land dispute case involving the right of way to her home in Lawrence Tavern, St Andrew has been dragging on in the Supreme Court for 11 years.
READ: ‘Justice is not for old people,’ bemoans senior citizen The case is set for trial on July 5 and 6 and Barclay says she is hoping there will be an end to the matter.