Following complaints about the new Civil Procedures Rules for the Supreme Court, steps are being taken to establish a committee which will provide recommendations to the Chief Justice, President of the Bar Council of the Guyana Bar Association, Kamal Ramkarran has revealed.
“Many of us are not clear on what these rules entail specifically in relation to different types of matters. We all want some clarity so people have been discussing the problems…raising issues with the rules and how they are to be applied”, Ramkarran told Stabroek News in a recent interview.
Ramkarran, 38, who was elected to office several weeks ago said that lawyers he has engaged with thus far have made mention of the new rules which took effect from February this year.
He said that given the concerns the GBA will establish a committee which will come up with recommendations which will be shared during a meeting with the members of the Bar.
Prior to its implementation, a number of training sessions were held; one of which was conducted by the Caribbean Court of Justice with the assistance of the Guyana Judicial Education Institute. Among the beneficiaries were judges, magistrates, attorneys – both state and private – and court registry staff.
These rules are expected to contribute to improved accessibility to the court, the more efficient resolution of matters and access to mediation procedures within the country’s legal system.
Ramkarran was unable to state whether the GBA was ever a party to the process of drafting the rules. He said that he was unsure as he was not a member of the Bar Council then.
“It is always a different matter when it actually comes into force and you have to deal with it as opposed to when it’s something in draft. Now it is here…we now know what problems there are because we are now filing our cases so we see specifically what the problems and differences are”, he said.
He added that the committee so far has three members and given that more persons are being sought, no timeframe has been set to come up with the recommendations.
Meanwhile, asked what is at the top of the Bar Council’s to-do list, he said that one of the important things that they plan to do is, representing the interest of lawyers and encouraging fraternity and association among lawyers especially with the young ones so that they can be guided and made aware that there are traditions which exist and standards which have to be upheld. These issues, he said were not given much attention in the past. He said that the association also aims to make the young lawyers feel welcome, “to bring them into a profession that they can feel a part of”.
According to Ramkarran, in order to represent lawyers there needs to be a body of lawyers and not just “every man to himself”.
The other members of the Bar Council are Vice Presidents, Senior Counsel Robin Stoby and Teni Housty; Secretary, Pauline Chase; Assistant Secretary Faye Barker and Treasurer, Devindra Kissoon along with committee members Rajendra Poonai, Sanjeev Datadin, Jamela Ali, Mark Waldron, Rexford Jackson and Brenden Glasford.
He said that he has so far spoken to three well-known activists and they each have put forth a number of useful suggestions concerning pro bono representation for vulnerable groups and education of the public on legal issues through the publication of booklets on the literature and topical issues concerning law.
Pointing out that the Bar Council hopes to work closely with the judiciary, he informed that he along with Chase met with acting Chief Justice Roxane George on Tuesday and a follow up meeting will be held to address some of the matters discussed. During the informal discussions, important issues were raised by both sides, he said.
“A lot of these issues would affect the system of justice and would assist people if we were to have some sort of success”, he said, adding that among the things discussed were the creation of a system of e filing which will reduce paper and transcription in all courts since it is believed that this would improve the delivery of justice given that there will be a record of what happens during proceedings.
Ramkarran, who is about to complete 15 years as a legal practitioner, told Stabroek News that it was his personal choice to run for office after realising that the GBA was not doing enough for lawyers.
“When you are on the outside you have that feeling…that they are more concerned with making political statements but not adequately representing lawyers”, he said. During the past year he felt strongly that more could be done. “If you feel that more can be done then you better go do it yourself to ensure whatever you want to see happen, happens”, he said.
“I believe that we should live in a country where things work and how do we get things to work? Well I have to do something”, he said.
He added that the Bar Council plans to work closely with both lawyers and the judiciary for the purpose of getting matters completed quicker. He said that the public will benefit from this if the Bar Council is successful in its quest. “Cases could be heard quickly and be determined quickly … everybody should be a little bit happier. One of the big problems people complain about is that cases take too long to finish and hopefully if we are successful things should move a lot quicker with less problems”, he said.