It is time to scrap the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC).
This is the main recommendation of the seven-member committee appointed by the Law Association to review the recruitment process for judges, magistrates and other legal officers employed by the State.
The committee, chaired by former Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Judge Desiree Bernard, presented its 67-page report to the President of the Law Association, Douglas Mendes SC.
According to the report, the committee recommended replacing the JLSC, which currently recruits and disciplines judges, magistrates and all State attorneys at Government ministries and agencies, with a new Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).
While the JLSC currently comprises of the Chief Justice (CJ), the head of the Public Service Commission (PSC), a retired Appellate Judge and two persons with legal qualifications, the committee suggested that the JAC comprise of seven members. All the members except the CJ and the head of the PSC are currently selected by the President.
The seven members suggested are the CJ, a retired Court of Appeal Judge, a senior attorney nominated by the Law Association, an attorney selected by the President, a human resource professional and two outstanding members of civil society, who would be selected by the President after consultation with the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition.
Mendes suggested that such a body would ensure that process is more democratic. “It is to expose the process to different voices and perspectives that the commission is not automatically exposed to now.”
Apart from replacing the JLSC, the committee also recommended that the new body should publish the eligibility criteria and the process of selection as there are no extensive official publications on the issues, currently.
Other major recommendations in the report include increasing the retirement age for judges from 65 to 70 and to allow judges to return to private practice after five years after resignation or retirement.
Currently, the time period for doing so is ten years.
The report is now expected to be discussed by the association’s council, which would then decide whether to accept the recommendations or make amendments. The report will then be disseminated to the association’s members and members of the public. The association is expected to hold public consultations on the recommendations before it moves on to recommending that Parliament implement them.
DESIREE BERNARD, LEFT, PRESENTS THE REPORT TO DOUGLAS MENDES SC