NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Attorney General Carl Bethel confirmed last week that the government plans to move the supreme court to the site of the old post office building on East Hill Street.
His announcement came at the opening of the legal year ceremony held last week at Christ Church Cathedral.
The issues plaguing the building that presently houses the supreme court have been an ongoing concern for members of the judiciary.
President of The Bahamas Bar Association, Khalil Parker said they have been pushing for years to have the court relocated.
“Litigants at times have had to be carried up physically up several flights of stairs due to the lack of disabled access at the Supreme Court facilities,” Parker revealed.
“We have seen matters adjourned due to malfunctioning air-conditioning systems. We continue to see judges and judicial staff contending with a dislocated Supreme Court physical plant, which requires files to be trekked up and down the city of Nassau.
“These are not new problems. They are not novel problems, however, we have yet to see substantive engagement from the government demonstrating any semblance of urgency or a plan to alleviate these vexing problems in the future.”
Acting Chief Justice Vera Watkins also spoke of the flaws in the judicial system at last week’s ceremony.
Watkins said the acute shortage of staff is quite evident in the magistrate’s court, especially in the area that is responsible for the collection and distribution of funds relative to maintenance payments.
“The need to restructure the system is severely handicapped by the shortage of staff,” Watkins said.
“There is an urgent need for more judges to hear civil matters. Perhaps the time is right to increase the number of judges to 20 so as to relieve the burden placed on the four judges in New Providence and the single judge in Grand Bahama who are hearing matters on the civil side of the court.”