(Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News)
Persons in the BVI seeking justice via the High Court are now able to file a case independently, thanks to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court’s (ECSC) recently announced Service Bureau.
In an announcement posted on July 6, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court noted that this ability to independently file a court case is now available to residents of the BVI, St. Lucia and Anguilla.
In making the announcement, the court said, "An unrepresented litigant or any citizen or resident of Saint Lucia, the Territory of the Virgin Islands or Anguilla who wishes to file a matter can visit the Court Office and consult the Service Bureau for assistance with the creation of cases and the management of the filings."
However, it was noted that the service is not replacing the need for legal advice (which comes from an attorney). Nonetheless, it was explained that this filing assistance takes away the need for unrepresented persons to have to depend on the aid of the court clerk.
"The Service Bureau cannot provide legal advice, but operates in accordance with the ‘Electronic Litigation Filing and Service Procedure Rules’ and the processes of the court. It must be noted that these range of features were not previously experienced or available to the poor, marginalized and unrepresented litigant," the ECSC explained.
This Service Bureau was among the recent implementations of the court that was explained to be in keeping with the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) definition of ‘access to justice’.
In noting how these electronic services bring justice to all, the ECSC said, "The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) defines ‘access to justice’ as “the ability of people to seek and obtain a remedy through formal or informal institutions of justice, and in conformity with human rights standards”. The ECSC’s thrust of providing equal access to justice for all is in line with the UNDP’s definition as such, in strengthening access to justice."
The court further explained that when considering the development and implementation of the current e-Litigation portal, it took every citizen in the OECS into consideration. This is why the court said that emphasis was placed on providing service for the poor, marginalized and unrepresented litigants.
"Hence, the introduction and implementation of a Service Bureau, manned by a member of staff from the Court Office, which has been designed to assist and maintain access to the Portal," ECSC stated.