The Judiciary says its staff will continue to operate as they have been during the pandemic, inclusive of virtual operations and service provision, until new administrative arrangements are issued, following the Prime Minister’s recent announcement of the return of public servants to work as normal on Monday March 7th.
An official statement issued by the Judiciary in response to news reports and commentary in the public domain, acknowledges that it did issue an internal email to staff indicating the instruction to continue operating as per usual, until new arrangements have been put in place.
According to the Judiciary’s release:
“It should be noted that any adjustments which the Judiciary’s administration would have wished to put in place could not have been ready for March 7, 2022 and staff were simply advised to continue to work as they have been doing and await further instructions.”
The following is the full text of the statement from the Judiciary…
Judiciary Clarifies Misconceptions Re. Judiciary Employees and March 7, 2022
The Judiciary wishes to refer to a news report carried on TV6 on the evening of March 5, 2022 in which a member of the bench purportedly called into question what she considered the Judiciary’s overriding of the directive of the Prime Minister that all public servants are expected to return to work as normal on March 7, 2022. An internal Judiciary e-mail of March 4, 2022 was also shown in the news report, in which the e-mail advised staff:
“…that on Monday 7th March, 2022 your current work arrangements continue until you hear from your supervisors who will advise you of changes to your work arrangements”.
The Judiciary is therefore placed in a position where it needs to quell public disquiet which is occasioned by an unfortunate misinterpretation of its instruction to staff. It hastens to indicate that the Judiciary functions on the basis of Practice Directions and Rules of Court which are issued after in-depth consideration.
The Prime Minister did not issue a directive to the Judiciary nor did the Judiciary at any time think that he did.
There is clear separation between the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary which the heads of these arms of the State are aware of and observe and no directive was given to the latter.
In the past the Judiciary has always taken the national environment into consideration and crafted its Practice Directions and Rules of Court in such a way as to take into account whatever health or other measures are effected by the Executive, while ensuring that the considerations which are unique to the Judiciary and its operations are addressed.
The Judiciary is going through the same process on this occasion.
The Prime Minister has stated that the country is about to transition from strategies to handle COVID 19 as a pandemic to those required to see it as endemic.
As head of the Executive the Prime Minister has indicated, as he is properly required to do, how the executive should function, and the Judiciary will now determine how it must function. This will be conveyed in the form of Rules of Court, Practice Directions or both.
It should be noted that any adjustments which the Judiciary’s administration would have wished to put in place could not have been ready for March 7, 2022 and staff were simply advised to continue to work as they have been doing and await further instructions.
The requisite Practice Direction would have had to be prepared and in-depth administrative arrangements made. The issue was not only about staff going to courthouses but about the wide range of Judiciary stakeholders who would be affected by any decision taken. The operations of the Judiciary require appropriate planning.
The above provides the facts of what has occurred in the Judiciary since March 4, 2022 and brings closure to any effort at misinforming the public about its actions.