Recommended Best Practices

AuthorCheryl Thompson-Barrow

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Reference has been made throughout this book to the Commonwealth meetings that occurred between 2003 and 2007. The considered outcomes have, therefore, been the culmination of these meetings and visits, as well as interaction and exchanges among delegates. The final delivery of recommendations occurred at the July 2007 Commonwealth meetings. It is believed that given the wealth of experience and seniority of the delegates, these outcomes of determination for best practices are invaluable.

Appellate jurisdiction

The role of the appellate jurisdiction in the provision of justice has to be recognised and respected.85 This jurisdiction is at the end of the road of appeals for justice undertaken by litigants. Recommendations for specific and general best practices are provided on reaching a position to provide as best an appellate jurisdiction as possible.

General recommendations
Judicial appointments

There should be ad hoc judicial appointments from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) and other common law/Commonwealth jurisdictions by courts within the Commonwealth. This approach enhances exchanges and allows for comparative assessments of the development of jurisprudence.

Library and research facilities

A fundamental tool for granting assurance to maintain standards and equipping the judiciary with appropriate instruments, is the provision of adequate funding for instituting and maintaining library resources, including technological innovations in such libraries. Working with law schools to secure assistance from students will also bolster research facilities, while simultaneously granting future members of the legal profession an opportunity to make a contribution and become familiar with processes.

Amicus curiae

Arrangements should be made with bar associations and the courts to be able to create a list of potential amicus curiae (advisers to the court).

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Translation and interpretation services

Where courts have to work in different languages, qualified translators and interpreters are necessary. Their training in legal language is appropriate to ensure that the translations and interpretations produce, as accurately as possible, the proceedings and statements of the court. This aspect is also further canvassed in the recommendations from the registry.

Adequate security

Judges, members of the court and witnesses need to be able to function in a physical situation devoid of fear and intimidation. Consequently, there should be the necessary measures in place to ensure that there is adequate security for all.

Specific recommendations
Public confidence/appointment and independence of judges

The fostering of public confidence in the appeals process will give the life blood to the court to ensure its functioning and, in particular for newly-established courts, will provide the wherewithal for its very existence.


* The continued independence of the judiciary from the legislative and executive arms of government must be safeguarded at all times.

* Dissents at all appellate levels should be permitted.

* The code of conduct of the judiciary must be adhered to and respected.

* Administrative independence for the court's functioning should be a priority.

* An independent mechanism for regular review of judicial remuneration should be established.

* A judicial services commission or similarly established body indicates the approach of transparency and fairness in appointments of the judiciary.

* Where and as far as possible, gender balance must be a consideration in the guiding then selection processes for judges.

Backlog and modernisation

An instrumental approach towards an efficient functioning appellate jurisdiction of a court has to factor in both its approach to eliminate backlog while simultaneously seeking to effect modernisation and innovation to meet that court's needs.


* Computers for alljudges along with support services are deemed to assist the ability to reduce the causes of backlog and delay. The judiciary is encouraged to become highly conversant with the use and consequent advantages of a computer and technology more generally.

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* Computers for research in libraries are imperative, as this again reduces delay and allows for internet sources to satisfy research demand with alacrity. Courts are also encouraged to subscribe to credible providers of online cases and other associated legal research sources.

* The foregoing will be made possible if there is, in tandem, the provision of independent and adequate legal, clerical and administrative assistance forjudges.

* Time limits need to be set and respected for procedural steps and timetables for hearings. Time limits again have to be maintained for:

* filing and responding to written submissions;

* filing intervenor applications and responses; and

* oral argument.

* In equal measure, written submissions need to be of limited length and that length adhered to.

* With regard to applications for leave, this should be carried out in writing. Leave, in particular, is to be granted on issues of fundamental importance, to settle inconsistent jurisprudence, or if a miscarriage of justice is involved.

* The delivery of judgments in a timely manner is paramount. To ensure that judges honour this approach, measures should be employed to achieve this end. These methods may include circulation of a periodic list of outstanding judgments, and/or naming the judge responsible. Regular meetings of judges are to be maintained in order to monitor the progress ofjudgment writing.

Continuing judicial education

To be able to deliver a consistently-updatedjudiciary, one that is familiar with the evolving judicial demands of the various courts, education for the judiciary has to be continuous.


* Judgment-writing courses need to be factored into the budgets and activities of the courts on a regular basis.

* The judiciary should pursue substantive and comparative law courses.

* Creation of a judicial institute for educating judges at all levels may be a long-term approach within a regional arrangement and is noteworthy. It may also be approached from the point of view of inter-action and collaboration with other regions and jurisdictions. Further, this approach may involve existing bodies and associations.

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The regional and international law jurisdiction

For recommendations of best practices in a regional court, observing the principles of international law, increasing the judiciary's knowledge and appreciation of same in the evolution of jurisprudence, along with ensuring that the citizenry can avail itself of the court, the suggested approaches are examined under the following arrangements:86

* General recommendations;

* Specific recommendations relating to:

* Scope of Jurisdiction

* Access or locus standi

* Development ofjurisprudence

* Training and continuing legal education

General recommendations
Library facilities

Having stressed the importance of research to the development of regional community law, the improvement of library facilities and equipment, as well as materials such as periodicals, textbooks and access to legal databases...

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