The Judiciary has extended the time for persons to pay fines inclusive of traffic tickets by three months.
The decision was communicated in a series of practice directions issued by Chief Justice Ivor Archie on Monday and comes a little over a month after such deadlines were automatically extended by a month under the Judiciary’s initial COVID-19 measures.
In the practice directions, Archie noted the extension would take effect from when the payment is due with persons with a deadline of March 17 or May 4, for example, now being required to pay them by June 17 and August 4, respectively.
“If the new due date falls on a weekend or public holiday, the payment becomes due on the next court business day,” Archie said.
Besides the payment extension and a corresponding three-month postponement of hearings of cases not deemed urgent during the period, the practice directions are similar to those issued by Archie in mid-March and will last until May 18 to coincide with the State’s recently extended COVID-19 policies.
The Judiciary’s policies are aimed at reducing the number of daily visitors to courthouses around T&T and to make courthouses as safe as possible for staff and users, who are still required to physically attend, by utilising technology for court services.
While he noted that most cases in the Court of Appeal, High Court (Civil and Criminal Divisions), Family Court, Children Court, District Criminal, and Traffic Courts, and the Summary Courts were suspended between March 16 and April 17, he stated that judicial officers were entitled to hear matters which they deemed fit for hearing during the period.
Archie suggested that a judicial officer may make such a determination on their own or through an application from the parties before them.
Archie noted that some matters in the individual courts were exempt.
In the Criminal Division of the High Court, cases under the Proceeds of Crime Act for the detention and forfeiture of cash; the Interception of Communication Act; the Anti-Gang Act; the Civil Asset Recovery and Management and Unexplained Wealth Act; and the Bail Act are deemed fit for hearing.
In the Civil Division of the High Court, matters under the Anti-Terrorism and Mental Health Acts and applications for writs of habeas corpus are permitted.
In the Family and Children Courts, cases involving domestic violence; maintenance applications and variations; and custody applications are allowed.
In the District Criminal and Traffic Courts, domestic violence cases; maintenance applications, forfeiture proceedings, and part-heard preliminary inquiries for serious offences such as murder, kidnapping, robbery, and firearm possession can take place.