Over seven decades of the Law Reports of Guyana are now available and President Donald Ramotar yesterday described it as a major initiative in bringing justice to the people.
The hard copies of the Law Reports of Guyana from 1977 to 2007 were launched yesterday along with electronic versions dating from 1930 to 2007. The initiative is as a result of the Modernisation of Justice Administration System Project being carried out by the Ministry of Legal Affairs with the aid of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The reports dating back to 1930 are available in the hard copies, allowing access to cases from the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
The web address that had been announced for online access was not functional when Stabroek News tried it last evening.
Attorney General (AG) Anil Nandlall, delivering the feature address at the launch at the Sleep In International Hotel, said that reports are very vital to the justice system. He said, “It is important that we have a record so that people of this country can be assured that justice is happening at the right stage [and] that courts can act with reform and consistency….”
Nandlall noted that the project is a continuous one aimed at having all the law reports published.
In addition to the law reports, the Official Gazette is also being published online, in keeping with legislation passed last year. Nandlall said that with the online access, persons overseas and here can be aware of fraudulent conversions of their properties before it is too late as is the case in some instances.
Nandlall also noted that there are plans to increase the number of judges sitting in the High Court, in order to decrease the backlog of cases.
To accommodate the increase, he disclosed that the government is trying to get the former New Building Society Limited (NBS) building on Avenue of the Republic to house the Deeds Registry and the Land Registry. He also talked about having access to the First Federation Building on Croal Street to house other courts. He said “hopefully we will get possession to the building…”
President Ramotar, meanwhile, said that he saw the reports as a major tool for the judiciary in bringing justice to people. With the law reports available, he said it is now easier for researchers and students to access the information.
Ramotar added that over the past years the government has been working to make the judiciary more efficient since he believes in the independence of the judiciary. Due to this belief, he further said, justice should be blind and should be in accordance with the constitution or the law. He noted that some judges, in an attempt to prove their independence, often feel that they have to go against the state.
In giving an overview, Project Coordinator Justice Claudette Singh said that in compiling the report, there were many errors that were discovered in the drafts. However, they were able to correct this after the IDB assisted them with proofreaders to edit the reports. She stated that the reports were scanned and given to the Canadian firm LEXUM, which was awarded the contract in 2010.
Country representative for the Bank Sophie Makonnen said that she was delighted at the outcome of the project, while adding that the bank has been carrying out justice projects since 1994 in countries that are developing.