Supreme Court establishes Family and Probate DivisionThursday, September 16, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica – There is now an established Family and Probate Division of the Supreme Court which became operational on Thursday.
The Family Division will hear matters in relation to divorce, division of property, child custody and maintenance. Prior to the establishment of the Family and Probate Division, some of these matters were heard in the High Court Division of the Supreme Court.
“The new division of the Supreme Court is designed to improve efficiency and the rate of disposition of matters involving the family,” said Chief Justice Bryan Sykes in a statement through the Court Administration Division (CAD).
Sykes informed that two judges will be assigned to the newly-formed division.
“When you have dedicated judges dealing with these family and probate matters, what you will have is expertise building up over a period of time. As a result, these judges will begin to deal with these cases faster and more efficiently and so avoid unnecessary delays. Our time standard is actually 24 months and what we are aiming for is to have those cases completed within the 24-month time standard,” Sykes said.
He was speaking Thursday at the opening of the Michaelmas Term of the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston.
Justice Icolin Reid and Justice Audrey Lindo are assigned to the Family and Probate Division.
Sykes noted that they will have their own Court Clerks, courtrooms and chambers to deal with these types of cases. He said these cases will be taken out of the High Court Division listing where they tend to be and now placed within resources dedicated exclusively to family and probate matters.
The Chief Justice added that a specialised division is consistent with international best practice in having matters dispensed with much faster.
The other divisions of the Supreme Court are the Gun Court, the Commercial Court and the Revenue Court. Sykes said the Family Division will aim to clear up matters as expeditiously as the Gun Court and Revenue Court, which are almost backlog free.
“The Gun Court is the first court in Jamaica that is operating according to international standards, that is to say it has less than 10 per cent of the caseload in backlog and less than 5 per cent in net backlog. That is the experience we are now taking over in the Family and Probate Division,” Sykes stated.
As for the Revenue Court, the Chief Justice said almost all cases are disposed of. He said that by October, all the cases there should be heard and determined. He said further that matters are also being disposed of faster in the Commercial Division where there are dedicated judges.