Industrial Court backlog has been reduced, AG says

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By Latrishka Thomas

The Industrial Court was said to have an accumulation of uncompleted matters totaling to over 59 cases last year, due to the shutdown of the Court, but according to Minister of Legal Affairs Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin, that number has been significantly reduced to only 15 cases.

“Regrettably, the court hasn’t been functioning for the past several months while having over 59 heard cases judgments undelivered, so the decision was taken to shut the court down temporarily so that those outstanding judgments can be written. We have been informed that that has been done and that the list is now at 15,” Benjamin said at the opening of the Law Year on Monday.

The Attorney General also disclosed that major improvements are on the horizon to ensure that cases are dealt with in a timely manner.

“The court will be reopened in new headquarters. Comfortable situations will be placed there. The law will be amended. The Labour Code was passed in 1975, the court was established in 1976 and the objective was to ensure that there was a speedy resolution of matters in the Court.

“So, the government has decided to amend the law to make provisions for a Deputy or Vice President. More members of the Courts circle will be appointed. We will have concurrent sittings of the two Courts at the same time,” he added

The Industrial Court in Antigua and Barbuda has been inactive for numerous months.

This caused a further delay of its cases which the Deputy General Secretary of the Antigua Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) Chester Hughes described as a crisis.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General stated that “on the 30th of January this year we shall be debating in the Parliament of this country, the Civil Registration Vital Statistics Bill which will govern the operations of the Civil Registry.

“No longer, Madam Registrar, will you have problems with birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates or otherwise,” he said.

Moreover, the Minister revealed that a registrar and the staff for the registry has already been selected.

“Already, we have identified the registrar. The first lady will be my learned friend Laurie Freeland. Her staff has already been identified and are receiving training. We have identified the building; the old Treasury building. Work is being done on the building … on High Street,” Benjamin shared.

In December, the Civil Registry Act which lays out a framework for Civil Registry was passed.

Under that Act, the registry will be modernised so that records of birth, death and so on can be digitalised.

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