|Mr. John Vassell, QC, Chairman|
|Justice Edward Zacca|
|Mr. Michael Vicens|
|Miss Sandra Shirley|
| Mr. Milton Samuda
|Mrs. Jemilia Davis|
|Mrs. Sandra Glasgow|
Role of the CommitteeThe PSOJ accepts that the reform of the Justice System as a modern legal framework and a well-functioning judicial system are crucial in: (i) as protecting civil liberties and Constitutional Rights, (ii) ensuring swift and fair disposal of cases involving criminal breaches; (iii) facilitating the peaceful resolution of disputes and supporting the protection of contractual and property rights, (iv) and achieving good governance.
The Committee will help to focus the attention of the Jamaican business community on the urgent need to overhaul the justice system. It will also serve to highlight the important role that an efficient justice system can play in establishing and maintaining an attractive investment climate in Jamaica.
The Jamaican Justice System Reform Report, published in June 2007 has noted that Government has the primary responsibility for funding the justice system at an appropriate level. However, the potential for investment by the private sector and for public-private partnerships should also be enhanced. In this context, the private sector includes not only businesses but all sectors of civil society including: trade unions, faith-based organisations and academia. Some local businesses and other organisations have already begun investing in the improvement of the justice system in Jamaica under the general rubric of responding to the social needs of the society.
The report also noted that there are positive benefits that accrue to the private sector from greater efficiency in the justice system that include:
- A more productive workforce since workers will spend less time away from work to participate in the justice system as parties, accused persons, witnesses or jurors.
- A more secure workforce that is more productive because workers enjoy enhanced psychological well-being.
- Decrease in violent crimes through a more effective justice system which would reduce the amount of time workers are away from work due to injuries and could reduce the number of individuals who migrate from Jamaica which is a real challenge for businesses especially due to the reduction in the pool of skilled labour.
- A justice system that has been revamped to refocus the way in which the courts punish offenders with a view to their rehabilitation, can serve to enlarge the pool of labourers available to the business community.
- Local businesses are also subject to victimisation and intense criminal activity can prevent businesses from operating effectively; some businesses have reported that they do not take formal legal action to enforce their rights because the justice system is inefficient and not cost-effective.
- Justice reform could lead to reduced security costs; crime also creates expenses for the consumer, which would in turn result in a decrease in the available income of the consumer to purchase its goods; violent crime has a negative impact on the investment climate.
- A justice system that delivers timely decisions in these types of civil disputes will, therefore, be more attractive to investors; and local businesses also benefit from the rule of law and from a system in which disputes are handled quickly and effectively.
Terms of Reference
- To undertake action to secure the establishment of a world-class Commercial Mediation and Arbitration business culture and organisation as a means of a speedy, fair and cost effective alternate dispute resolution for the disposition of commercial disputes.
- To review the need for reform of the Laws of Jamaica to ensure that they keep abreast with global standards and that they are supportive of Jamaica’s ability to establish and maintain a competitive investment environment.
- To examine and make recommendations on methods by which the Jamaican private sector can support the Jamaica Justice System Reform Programme.
- To monitor all developments that affect the efficiency and fairness of the criminal and civil justice system of Jamaica, with particular reference to their impact on rights protected Chapter III in the Constitution of Jamaica.
- To keep under specific review the operations of the Commercial Court of the Supreme Court of Jamaica and how the Resident Magistrates’ Courts deal with civil matters relating to the business and wider community.
- To establish and maintain links with other Jamaican organisations and international business and professional organisations concerned with supporting the development of a modern legal framework for successful business.
- To oversee and monitor the progress of the sub-team on Justice Reform which is charged with the responsibility of developing action plans to implement the recommendations of the report of the Task Force on Justice Reform.