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Mar 19, 2020

Secondary Legislation Drafted to Forward Court Proceedings in Wake of COVID-19 Threat

The courts are not immune to the corona virus threat. The Court of Appeal was the first to make a change in the judiciary and has suspended its sitting. On Tuesday, Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, Chief Magistrate Sharon Fraser, the Director of the Family Court, the Deputy Registrar and executive members of the Bar Association of Belize met in emergency to draft the way forward for judicial proceedings as the COVID-19 pandemic looms outside our borders. An important decision that came out of the meeting is that on the civil side of the Supreme Court, all hearings, including a redistricting case brought against the government of Belize, have been suspended for approximately a week, as of today. The suspension is to finalise the practice directions still under review and to formalize how proceedings will be conducting in Belize.

 

Gavin Courtenay

Gavin Courtenay, Executive Committee Member, Bar Association of Belize

“Certain measures were discussed and agreed to further certain initiatives to limit the potential spread of the virus, including measures such as social distancing. So the measures we are taking are looking at reducing person to person contact, reducing the amount of persons who will be in the precincts of the court at a particular time and maximizing the use of technology and introducing new initiatives where technology is concerned so as to further those objectives. What is being proposed is that the Chief Justice is actually going to issue practice directions which are almost like secondary legislations, which are basically rules which govern the conduct of the court. They are still in draft form, but we expect them to be finished by next week or in a week’s time.”


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