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Lookout Housing Tenant succeeds against LDA at Court of Appeal

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Hon Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira speaking about Justice for All – last Sept.

The Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal under the presidency of Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira has ordered that a matter brought by Charlesworth Piper also known as “Shoe-sharni” or “Arab” against the Montserrat Land Development Authority (LDA) be remitted back to the Magistrate Court for retrial by a different Magistrate.

Hon Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira in the Opening the last Opening of the Law Year feature address delivered by simulcast, stressed the words, “Justice for All!”.

Speaking at the opening of the Law Year former Attorney General Hon. Esco Henry said, immediately following the Chief Justice’s address featuring “Justice for All”, linking her submission to the “Justice for All” sentiment that echoed CJ’s address, “…Unless and until there is true access to justice for all,” asking the question, “2014-07-07 Shoe Sharni (1)can we proclaim that we live in a just society?”

“Recognizing that an effective Judicial system is at the core of all social and economic development, the court consistently strives for the achievement of professionalism and excellence in the timely, effective and efficient access to an administration of a cohesive, independent and accountable system of justice for the benefit of its member states,” Hon. Pereira said.

2014-07-07 Shoe Sharni (4)The appeal stems from a Magistrate Court case where the LDA took Piper to court for rent arrears, for a home he occupies in the Look Out community. He was found liable for arrears of rent amounting to $2,990.00 for rent, $2,300.00 for Mesne rent (i.e rent accrued during the dispute) and costs of $500.00. During the hearing, the learned Magistrate allowed Piper to call as a witness Cecil Lake – an employee of LDA. Other witnesses were summoned including the Minister of Agriculture. Such witnesses were waiting outside court to testify the Magistrate inquired as to the reason why he wanted to call the Minister and subsequently denied that request.

One of the grounds of Piper’s appeal was that the magistrate’s decision in not allowing him to call witnesses as part of his case was a fundamental breach of his rights under section 7 of the Montserrat Constitutional Order 2010 which provides:

“that a person should be afforded facilities to examine in person or by his or her legal representative the witnesses called by the prosecution before the court, and to obtain the attendance and carry out the examination of witnesses to testify on his behalf before the court on the same conditions as those applying to witnesses for the prosecution.”

There were other grounds including the ground that the learned magistrate erred by not acceding to his application to visit the house which was the subject of the suit. However the Appeals Court did not consider those grounds stating that the ground that the Magistrate erred in failing to permit the Appellant to call his witnesses was sufficient to allow the appeal.

In handing down the judgment, Chief Justice Janice Pereria, President of the Court of Appeal, said a litigant should be able to call any witness he or she chooses irrespective of the witnesses’ standing in the community.

The Hon C J spent several minutes emphasizing the importance of access to justice for “everyone”. According to the learned Chief Justice, denying Piper the opportunity to call his own witnesses is tantamount to denying him access to justice, which the court frowns upon. “The Magistrate could not pre-determine the relevance of witnesses. This is cause for considerable concern. The quality of justice must be equal for all irrespective of stature or else there would be tiers of justice of which there should be none.”

The matter will now be re-heard before a different Magistrate. Charlesworth Piper represented himself in the matter while the Land Development Authority was represented by Kharl Markham.

Related articles: http://www.themontserratreporter.com/opening-of-2013-14-law-year/

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Untitled-1

Hon Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira speaking about Justice for All – last Sept.

The Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal under the presidency of Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira has ordered that a matter brought by Charlesworth Piper also known as “Shoe-sharni” or “Arab” against the Montserrat Land Development Authority (LDA) be remitted back to the Magistrate Court for retrial by a different Magistrate.

Hon Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira in the Opening the last Opening of the Law Year feature address delivered by simulcast, stressed the words, “Justice for All!”.

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Speaking at the opening of the Law Year former Attorney General Hon. Esco Henry said, immediately following the Chief Justice’s address featuring “Justice for All”, linking her submission to the “Justice for All” sentiment that echoed CJ’s address, “…Unless and until there is true access to justice for all,” asking the question, “2014-07-07 Shoe Sharni (1)can we proclaim that we live in a just society?”

“Recognizing that an effective Judicial system is at the core of all social and economic development, the court consistently strives for the achievement of professionalism and excellence in the timely, effective and efficient access to an administration of a cohesive, independent and accountable system of justice for the benefit of its member states,” Hon. Pereira said.

2014-07-07 Shoe Sharni (4)The appeal stems from a Magistrate Court case where the LDA took Piper to court for rent arrears, for a home he occupies in the Look Out community. He was found liable for arrears of rent amounting to $2,990.00 for rent, $2,300.00 for Mesne rent (i.e rent accrued during the dispute) and costs of $500.00. During the hearing, the learned Magistrate allowed Piper to call as a witness Cecil Lake – an employee of LDA. Other witnesses were summoned including the Minister of Agriculture. Such witnesses were waiting outside court to testify the Magistrate inquired as to the reason why he wanted to call the Minister and subsequently denied that request.

One of the grounds of Piper’s appeal was that the magistrate’s decision in not allowing him to call witnesses as part of his case was a fundamental breach of his rights under section 7 of the Montserrat Constitutional Order 2010 which provides:

“that a person should be afforded facilities to examine in person or by his or her legal representative the witnesses called by the prosecution before the court, and to obtain the attendance and carry out the examination of witnesses to testify on his behalf before the court on the same conditions as those applying to witnesses for the prosecution.”

There were other grounds including the ground that the learned magistrate erred by not acceding to his application to visit the house which was the subject of the suit. However the Appeals Court did not consider those grounds stating that the ground that the Magistrate erred in failing to permit the Appellant to call his witnesses was sufficient to allow the appeal.

In handing down the judgment, Chief Justice Janice Pereria, President of the Court of Appeal, said a litigant should be able to call any witness he or she chooses irrespective of the witnesses’ standing in the community.

The Hon C J spent several minutes emphasizing the importance of access to justice for “everyone”. According to the learned Chief Justice, denying Piper the opportunity to call his own witnesses is tantamount to denying him access to justice, which the court frowns upon. “The Magistrate could not pre-determine the relevance of witnesses. This is cause for considerable concern. The quality of justice must be equal for all irrespective of stature or else there would be tiers of justice of which there should be none.”

The matter will now be re-heard before a different Magistrate. Charlesworth Piper represented himself in the matter while the Land Development Authority was represented by Kharl Markham.

Related articles: http://www.themontserratreporter.com/opening-of-2013-14-law-year/