The Judiciary of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago seeks to discharge its functions against hallmarks of independence, integrity and justice. These core values have assisted in shaping the Judiciary’s mission and vision, and have also guided the institution along a path of transformation and modernization, especially over the past 15 years.
A major output of the reform initiatives has been the creation of a Department of Court Administration (DCA), headed by a Court Executive Administrator (CEA).
The acceptance that specialist staff was needed to administer the Courts lies at the heart of the concept of modern Court Administration which saw its formal beginning in the United States several years earlier with then U.S Chief Justice, Warren Burger, opining that the courts of his country "need management, which busy and overworked judges, with drastically caseloads, cannot give. We need…trained administrators or managers to manage and direct the machinery so that Judges can concentrate on their primary duty of judging."
The DCA was created as a part of the Judiciary of Trinidad and Tobago for this very purpose. It operates as an extension of the Judge’s mandate for managing the Courts and their cases under the direction and supervision of the Chief Justice.
With a range of specialised units under its purview, the DCA’s role involves the study, review, implementation and management of the systems, procedures and processes utilised to manage cases brought before the courts. It also ensures that case flow management techniques are adequately supported for minimum delay between the filing and disposition of a case, while ensuring due process is afforded equally to all who appear before the courts. In this regard, the DCA’s role has not only been to ensure that cases are managed efficiently and effectively from commencement to disposition, but also, and most importantly, to preserve through that management, impartiality and integrity in the adjudication process as gatekeepers of the principles of due process.
Key Achievements under the Reform Process
- Introducing the Civil Procedure Rules in 2005
- Improving workflows and reducing delays by using Case Management Software and re-engineering Court Processes
- Establishing systems and procedures for collecting and publishing Court Statistics and measuring performance
- Producing Judiciary Annual Reports since 1998 as part of our commitment to accountability
- Strengthening court recording by introducing Computer-Assisted Transcription and Audio-Digital Court Recording
- Improving timeliness and access by using Video-conferencing:
- in both the High Court and Magistrates’ Courts for witnesses who are at risk or not in the country
- in the civil jurisdiction of the High Court for case management hearings
- as a pilot in the Magistrates’ Courts to simplify the process of case management hearings for persons who have been remanded in custody.