Learn how the Saint Lucia Justice of the Peace Association was Started
In Early July 1997, the idea for the establishment of a National Association of Justices of the Peace of St. Lucia was mooted. The purpose was to help the Justice System in the following areas:
Authority to hear minor civil matters and petty criminal cases.
Officiate at weddings
Issues arrest warrants
Traffic offenses and hold Inquests
Juvenile matters, etc.
In this regard, consultation was established with the Guyanese Justice of the peace Association.On Sunday 7th March 1999, The Justice of the Peace Association (JPA) of St. Lucia was formally established at an inaugural meeting held at Charterhouse High (School) at Mon Repos, in the District of Micoud. At that meeting the following named persons were elected to serve:
President: Dr. Urban Seraphine
Vice President: Mr. Ignatius Evans
Secretary General: Mrs. Armelle Mathurin
Asst. Secretary: Mrs. Gloria Lay
Public Relation Officer: Mr. Primus Hutchinson
Three Floor Members:
Mr. Gregor Biscette
Mr. Cuthbert Ramontal
Mr. Michel Gaspard
Mr. Patrick Joseph
Mr. Michael Saltibus
Mrs. Billy Jn Baptiste
Mrs. Florence Monrose
Mr. Oliver M Scott
In an effort to put JPA on a sound footing and give it “teeth”, a number of persons were consulted and to partner with. Among those persons were:
His Lordship, The Honourable Chief Justice Sir, Dennis Byron, of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court;
The Senior Magistrate, Floreta Nicholas, Of the First District Court;
Project Manager, Jennifer Astaphan, of the OECS/CIDA Judicial & Legal Reform Project, for project funding to deal with “ISSUES AND OPTIONS”.
In 2001, The Director of Public Prosecution was contacted to facilitate making use of individual Justices of the Peace from the various districts as witnesses to the taking of statements from accused persons by the police. The Honourable Petrus Compton, Attorney General and Minister for Justice was written to in an effort to agitate for JPA to have representation on the Police Reform Committee etc.
In 2002, The Solicitor General was consulted on behalf of JPA and was presented with the following suggestions:
Standardize instrument. Code of Ethics - Manual – Identity (badge, stamps, I.D card, Seal)
That JP’s be used for alternative dispute resolution.
That JP’s exist within a closed association under the Co-ordination of JPA.
That enrolment of JP’s to JPA be mandatory.
That JP’s be selected to standardized criteria.
That JP’s receive proper education and training complementary to their duties and status.
In 2008, Honourable Dr. Nicholas Frederick, Attorney General and Minister for Justice, was contacted on behalf of the JPA for the functionality of the proposed Small Claims Court. With some agitation, a report was commissioned by OECS/CIDA Re: Justice Of The Peace. The report gave a fair coverage to the reality of the existence of Justices of the Peace in St. Lucia. To this end, the following recommendations were presented and agreed to by JPA:
(a) The need to give greater recognition and use to the potential abilities of JP’s within the state.
(b) The need for initial and ongoing training for JP’s
(c) The urgency to enlighten the whole nation about the work, status, power and importance of JP’s.
(d) The possible utilization of competent JP’s as lay magistrates with limited powers.
(e) The need for legislation dealing with the function and responsibilities and the limitation of Justices of the Peace in St. Lucia
The suggestion of a two-tiered system consisting of junior and senior JP’s although plausible leaves many areas unsolved.
(a) What criteria will be used for segregation?
(b) What strategy will be employed to ensure and safeguard both the dignity and adequate information of individual JP’s?
(c) Whether the sub-division into two tiers will be a short term solution or an intricate part of the whole legislative process which will govern the system
The executive of the JPA, THEN AND NOW is not supportive of the suggestion that no other person or organization but the Governor General should have the power to appoint JP’s. It had been suggested to the former Attorney General that a structure for the appointment of JP’s could take the following format:
a) A committee be established for community members to submit names.
b) Composition of the committee could be:
(i) JPA representative.
(ii) The police for background checks.
(iii) Church council.
(iv) Women’s movement.
(v) Bar Association.(vi) Major community Development Agencies.
c) Establish a set of criteria for nomination:
(i) Five years residency in a community
(ii) Age limit of 25 for nomination.
(iii) Candidates possess at least secondary school education
(iv) Fit and proper persons.(v) other
d) On a name being submitted the committee will investigate and submit its recommendation to the Governor General, Prime Minister or Minister of Legal Affairs.
e) The appointment of the committee will be non partisan providing transparency and fairness.
f) Rejection of a name after investigation must be given to the committee without breaking confidences.
g) The life of the committee could be for three years.
h) That while the office of Justice of the Peace remains voluntary, consideration should be given to some form of annual subvention in cash or kind for all to offset the cost of running their office and official duties. Eg paper, stamp (Seal) etc.
i) That the new proposed legislation in respect of the reform of Justice of the Peace in St. Lucia, be publicly introduced, promoted and explained along similar lines to that employed for the Family Reform Programme.
The Justice of the Peace Association (JPA) of St. Lucia continues to work and on 29 March, 2012 a new interim committee was established.In compliance with its aspiration, the "JPA" hopes to respect, honor, uphold and preserve the constitution of St. Lucia and promote many qualities.
1. Training for Justices of the Peace
2. Identification of plans for the execution of recommendations
3. Code of ethics
4. Stamp unique to all JP’s with one difference JPA Reg No.
5. Expedite the use of JPs to hear cases in the civil court and minor criminal issues.
6. JPs with the requisite educational background and training can be used as mediators within the court services.
7. That JPs should operate within JPA.
8. That selection of JPs should be by established and standardized criteria.
9. That enrolment to JPA be made mandatory for proper governance.
10. That there be a 2-tiered system consisting of junior and senior JPs.
Consequently, an advisory committee should be established which should be revised every 3 years. Members should take an oath of secrecy and be non-partisan in line of duty.
The advisory committee should consist of members of JPA, The Police Force, Gender Association, Bar Association etc.
That specific criteria be established and that any would-be nominee should be at least 25 years old, have been living in St. Lucia for at least 5 years, has an education level up to secondary or its equivalent.
That every recommended candidate be a fit and proper person.
That upon receipt of a name, further investigation should be carried out before the individual is recommended to the Governor General.
That the rejection for a nominee be confidential.
That while the office of JP remains voluntary, Justices of the Peace should receive a subvention from the state.
That qualified and capable JPs be used to sit as lay magistrates on small cases not exceeding $5000.00.
That JPs with tertiary education be automatically issued civil status and be allowed to marry people. (Members were informed that currently only the Roman Catholic, The Anglican Church and The Salvation Army enjoy that privilege).
That the Manual for JPA be endorsed by an Act of Parliament and named “The Justice Of The Peace Act Of St. Lucia”
On the 29th March 2012 a new interim committee was put in place for three months to secure a greater membership of Justices of the Peace Association (JPA). The composition of the committee was as follows:
Honourable Mr. John Daniel - Interim Chairman
Honourable Mrs. Armelle Mathurine - Interim Secretary
Honourable Miss Alicia John - Interim Treasurer
Honourable Dr. Urban Seraphine - Interim Public Relations Officer (PRO)
After this time a Board was put in place in August of 2012 to make sure the board works effectively. The following sub-committee was established in January 2013.Application and Advisory Committee [ADC]This committee was established to help facilitate the removal of political bias in the appointment of Justices of the Peace. To this end, the following named committee was put in place to facilitate this process.
Honourable Dr. Urban Seraphine (Chairman)
Honourable Morrison Blanchard
Honourable David Desir
Honourable John Daniel
The Secretary General (as an ex-officio member)
Constitution CommitteeThe executive also thought it pertinent to look at JPA’s constitution to better manage JPA as part of the judicial fraternity.
Honourable Linwall James (Chairman)
Honourable Morrison Blanchard
Honourable Raphael Eudovique
Honourable Dr. Urban Seraphine
Honourable Nigel Philgence
A disciplinary committee was established to protect the public from any misconduct that would be perpetrated by a Justice of the Peace. The JPA could be written to if there is a need for any JP to be sanctioned.Disciplinary Committee
Honourable Mr. John Daniel (Chairman)
Honourable Dr. Urban Seraphine
Honourable Mr. Harrigan Lansiquot
Honourable Mr. David Desir
Let me assure everyone that our new management committee of JPA will continue to live up to its motto "Respect in Performance".
1) We ask the public to be cautious when making use of a Justice of the Peace
2) Justices of the Peace should make their presence more visible by the display of their warrants. Members of the public have the right to ask for proof of that warrant, a very important document which they hold in the society.
3) In addition, we would remind all Justices of the Peace to NEVER SIGN:
documents by proxy,
documents for immediate relatives, etc.
The public is now reminded that should they have any concerns with any JP, they should consult with The Justice of the Peace Association [JPA] on the matter.
I am proud to have been the catalyst for the establishment of JPA with such persons as Mr. Ignatius Evans, Mrs. Armelle Mathurin, Mr. Gregor Biscette, Mr. Michel Gaspard, Mr. Oliver M Scott and others including our new president Mr John Daniel. It is also with great satisfaction this short briefing is provided as we continue to educate and inform the public in service to them.
Written by Honourable Dr. Urban Seraphine