Given the unprecedented situation in the courts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Assembly of Southern Lawyers (ASL) is willing to yield to having no long vacation only for this year.
In a letter to Chief Justice Ivor Archie, the south attorneys joined other judicial officers, including High Court judges, in opposing the proposed move to permanently stop the Judiciary’s annual long vacation.
ASL president Michael Rooplal said his membership’s views on this matter have also been shared with the Law Association.
“In brief, the ASL opposes the proposal to abolish the long vacation for the reasons listed below. The membership is, however, appreciative of the unique circumstances which the COVID-19 has presented to the Judiciary, and by extension, all persons seeking justice through the Courts, and as such, are generally not opposed to there being no long vacation for the year 2020 so as to compensate for judicial time and resources lost in the period March 17 to June 15,” Rooplal said.
Among their objections to the abolishment of the long vacation, is that it provides a necessary respite from the often harrowing demands of practice and allows practitioners to spend meaningful time with their families.
Although, he said most practitioners also spend that time managing the ever-increasing backlog of work.
Rooplal also noted the possibility of each judge taking their six-week vacation at leisure, or worse, piecemeal, which would make it difficult for practitioners who appear before multiple judicial officers to plan and co-ordinate their vacation.
He said,:“There is, therefore, the risk of the proposed abolition removing the symmetry and relative certainty of judges taking their six-week vacation at a known, defined time; promotes inefficiency in the dissemination of justice; and, creates chaos in case-load management etc.”
Without a jointly agreed to vacation period, he said, attorneys will also have the freedom to take vacations when they see it fit and this could lead to scheduling conflicts in matters.
He said the long vacation also provides the bench with an opportunity to focus on other functions, including the writing of judgments. He was hopeful that their views will be factored into the ultimate decision of the Judiciary.
Rooplal also gave the assurance that the ASL is committed to assisting the Judiciary in whatever way possible towards the development of its efficiency and delivery of justice.