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Opposition chides Government’s delay in dealing the Judges’ Pay

Opposition chides Government’s delay in dealing the Judges’ Pay

Kingston, January 7, 2017: Opposition Spokesperson on Justice & Governance, Senator Mark Golding, is expressing dismay at the reports of serious disquiet among the Judiciary resulting from the long-delayed completion of the statutory process for an independent review of their emoluments.

The Judiciary Act establishes an Independent Commission of the Judiciary, tasked with reviewing the compensation of the Judiciary at three-yearly intervals and reporting to Parliament thereon via the Executive branch of Government. The objective of this statutory mechanism is to protect the independence of the Judiciary from being compromised by undue influence from the Executive branch of Government in relation to Judges’ compensation.

Senator Golding said – “The Independent Commission’s most recent review of the Judges’ emoluments was delivered to the Ministry of Justice at the beginning of 2016, and (as is customary) was promptly forwarded to the Ministry of Finance for their necessary action. It is unacceptable that, one year later, the Government has not implemented the adjustments resulting from that review, and the Commission’s report has not even been tabled in Parliament.”

Senator Golding is urging the Government to avoid an unseemly and dangerous impasse with the Judiciary, by bringing an immediate end to the protracted delay in completing the statutory process so that the Judges may benefit from the required adjustments to their emoluments. Senator Golding is reminding the Government that the principle of the separation of powers which underpins our constitutional system of Government will be compromised if the statutory processes which support the independence of the Judiciary are thwarted.

Senator Golding is also reminding the Government that, under the previous Administration, the status of Resident Magistrates was elevated to that of Parish Judges, who were also brought under the Judiciary Act. The effect of that reform is that the emoluments of Parish Judges are subject to independent review by the Commission on a triennial cycle, similar to the Judges of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. In light of the Government’s reported lack of action in relation to the provisions of the Judiciary Act in relation to the senior Judges, Senator Golding is also calling on the Minister of Justice to indicate whether this review mechanism has been activated in relation to the Parish Judges.