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Government of the Virgin Islands
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The legal fraternity celebrated the opening of the 2022 Law Year of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) on January 11.
The start of the year began with a church service at the New Testament Church of God International Worship Centre, before transitioning to a virtual ceremony under the theme: “The ECSC: Re-imagining the justice system in the era of COVID-19 and beyond,” which featured an address by Her Ladyship, The Honourable Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE, LL.D. Attorney General, Dawn J. Smith offered remarks on behalf of the Attorneys General in the ECSC jurisdiction and the Bar of the Virgin Islands, while other remarks were made by members from the Inner and Utter Bars of the jurisdiction.
Justice Pereira, in her remarks, questioned what the justice system will resemble in the next five to ten years. She noted that, “It is, I think fair to say, that as COVID-19 lingers on, and even beyond the pandemic, digitally-driven courts will be critical to the continued administration of justice.” She noted that courts around the world have arrived at the conclusion that digitally operated courts and services are here to stay as the administration of justice through digital platforms was a welcomed transformation as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the judicial system into survival mode.
Attorney General, Dawn J. Smith during her remarks, questioned the direction the jurisdiction will go in as, “for some years now, we (the legal profession in the Eastern Caribbean) have pushed the boundaries of the practice of law and dispute
resolution. Most recently, we have adapted to remote access for the conduct of case management conferences, hearings and other interactions in the dispute resolution space as we have braved extreme natural disasters and a global pandemic. My question today is simply – where do we go from here?”
The Attorney General congratulated the Chief Justice on her steady and visionary leadership and also congratulated the ECSC Bench and Bar for their resolve to follow her into the digital age and urged them not to downplay the significance of the steps taken thus far.
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) was established in 1967 by the West Indies Associated States Supreme Court Order No. 223 of 1967. The (ECSC) is a superior court of record for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), including six independent states: Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and three British Overseas Territories (Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, and Montserrat). It has unlimited jurisdiction in each member State.