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Justice in VI tipped in favour of big business- Ms Dancia Penn

There is at least a perception that there are two standards of justice with the scales tipped in favour of the Commercial Division of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (in Picture), as opposed to the ordinary Civil and Criminal Divisions of the High Court," Ms R. Dancia Penn-Sallah. Photo: VINO/File
Former Deputy Governor, Deputy Premier and Attorney General, Honourable, R. Dancia Penn-Sallah, has penned a written submission to the United Kingdom’s, Parliamentary Special Committee—currently reviewing the relationship between that country and its Overseas Territories. Photo: VINO/File
Former Deputy Governor, Deputy Premier and Attorney General, Honourable, R. Dancia Penn-Sallah, has penned a written submission to the United Kingdom’s, Parliamentary Special Committee—currently reviewing the relationship between that country and its Overseas Territories. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – The Judicial system in the Virgin Islands (VI) is currently imbalanced and is in fact, tipped in favour of businesses and commercial interests, to the detriment of the ordinary citizen, accessing justice in a timely manner.

This, the lamentation of eminent Virgin Islander and former Deputy Governor, Deputy Premier and Attorney General, Honourable, R. Dancia Penn-Sallah, when she penned a written submission to the United Kingdom’s (UK) Parliamentary Special Committee—currently reviewing the relationship between that country and its Overseas Territories.

The former lawmaker, in her submission—submitted in September last—complained that the judicial system in the VI is not as robust and balanced as it should be.

Perception

“There are issues of access to justice especially by ordinary citizens and, delays in the delivery of justice as well as inequalities in the system… There is at least a perception that there are two standards of justice with the scales tipped in favour of the Commercial Division of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, as opposed to the ordinary Civil and Criminal Divisions of the High Court.” 

The former VI Deputy Premier posited that, “one appreciates the economic reasons for the rapid re-establishment of the Commercial Court after Hurricane Irma in September, 2017” and noted that “within a few days, arrangements were made for the relocation and ongoing functioning of the Commercial Division of the Court.”

She informed the UK Committee however, “…it was only in November (2017) that arrangements were made for the holding of a Case Management Conference for High Court Civil Matters.”

She said, arrangements were made in respect of Criminal Cases, including those of persons awaiting trial on indictment, at some time later.

Similarly, there were delays in the handling of matters in the Magistrate’s Courts, “and to date several matters scheduled at the time of the Hurricanes in September, 2017 remain unheard.”

According to the former lawmaker, “there appears (also) not to be sufficient of recognition of the importance of the civil and criminal justice systems to the rule of law and the functioning of a democracy.”

Ad Hoc

She highlighted for the UK Parliamentary Committee that the developing trend of several ad hoc and short term appointments of private legal practitioners as judges and the integral involvement of select members of the legal profession and Ministers of Government in these appointments, “also has implications, real and perceived, for the independence of the judiciary as an institution, and ultimately for the rule of law.”

In addition, persons charged with criminal offences at times experience long delays in being brought to trial and Legal Aid is not always available.

The learned Attorney-at-Law, also bemoaned the fact persons charged on indictment in the High Court continue to be tried under a very outdated Jury Act, “notwithstanding the fact that it has been found to be unconstitutional by Courts.”

5 Responses to “Justice in VI tipped in favour of big business- Ms Dancia Penn”

  • wize up (05/12/2018, 09:56) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
    no disrespect: I can safely say that an election is on the drawing board: it is only just before an election the shortcomings of the voting public is acknowledged and spoken about on TV; on Radio and online......right after an election no one cares as a matter of fact those who frequently drop by our residents just before vote day, after vote day you will never see them again: it is very strange how what is wrong in this territory is most high lighted by aspiring politicians just before the election: some of we are given a hard time up in here; and the future of our sons and our daughters and our grandchildren is very questionable(that can not be right)...you will hear all the stories now: who did what: the name calling: what I personally wish to hear the political folks speaking about is passing new laws which will see our political leadership doing prison time for any form of misconduct(small man doing jail time for less serious issues)...I gone fu now
    • BVI Diaspora/Enclave (05/12/2018, 12:38) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
      @Wize Up, indeed, we (voters) need to wise up, get engaged and demand change, for politicians will not; it is not in their interest to. Typically, politicians employ the practice of over promising during campaign and under delivering after without penalty, for they know that a majority of the electorate has short, short memories. If the electorate want change, it must wake up from its slumber/hibernation and demand change. Frederick Douglass states, “If there is no struggle, there will be no progress.”
      • wize up (05/12/2018, 19:34) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
        @ BVI Diaspora: honestly speaking; our BVI have been transformed: I grew up in the 60s where persons look you in the eye and allowed you to know that you were doing the wrong things: in modern day VI, we are timid to speak out because you can become a victim of the system(victermization) plus some among us will not speak out because they might end up loosing the bush cutting contracts: some looks to the political leadership for financial assistance and we don’t want to jeperdize those funds: at the end of the the social system have changed in our territory: even though we know what’s wrong(politically) we will not honestly get up and stand up: it’s all about money these days and me joining hand in hand with you might cause my downfall..my personal concern; those running for political offices is not speaking about stiffer penalties for the politicians: all them continue harping about is who did what 10 years ago: once there is any suspicious conduct we need that politician investigated(the small man is often arrested on suspicion and if need be taken before the court)....new rules is a must
  • Political Observer (PO) (05/12/2018, 12:19) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    Justice delayed is justice denied; waiting 2-3 years for one to get his/her day in court, is double punishment for those who are convicted of accused crime(s). The rule of law must be core principle/practice in the BVI. Actions are urgently needed to adjudicate all the dated cases; again, justice delayed is justice denied. Furthermore, the new and incoming government must established an ad hoc committee to review the BVI justice system and make recommendations for improvements.
  • Look Ting (06/12/2018, 08:10) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    So the truth comes out. No justice in the BVI


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