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The S. W. Tapley Seaton Court Annex Opened
Justice and Legal
The brand-new annex to the Sir Lee Llewellyn Moore Judicial and Legal Services Complex was officially opened on Tuesday 14th December 2021 in a ceremony held under the auspices of the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs. The ceremony was also graced by the distinguished presence of His Excellency the Governor General Sir S. W. Tapley Seaton GCMG, CVO, QC, JP, LLD.
The Annex was fittingly named “The Sir Tapley Seaton Annex” in honour of Sir Tapley whose illustrious professional career as a legal luminary and public servant as well as his personal interest in advancing the targeted services has been recognized by the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs and the country at large. Sir Tapley had also chaired a committee that was instrumental in rebuilding the present court complex following the destruction of the original court facilities and the Public Library by fire in 1982.
The new annex was constructed by B. C. Audain and Associates and sits on the site of what was initially the Supreme Court and Registry and the Basseterre Public Library prior to 1982. Latterly, a ground level only building had been constructed to house the Electoral Office on the very spot that the annex now sits. That building was demolished to make way for the erection of the new two storied annex.
The new facility has been long anticipated as the government of St. Kitts and Nevis makes continued efforts to increase and improve access to justice in the Federation. This has been an ongoing quest spearheaded by the Hon Attorney General Mr. Vincent Byron Jr.
Constructed in a manner reflecting the architectural design of the main edifice of the High Court complex, the new addition to the court facilities will be housing a third Magistrate Court chamber for District A Basseterre as well as three specially appointed mediation rooms and a state-of-the-art Law Library. These new units provide the base upon which the government is seeking to expand the services of the judicial and legal services for the benefit of all citizens and residents.
The third Magistrate Court chamber is intended primarily to facilitate ‘in camera’ proceedings involving juveniles. However, it is also expected to cater to the exigencies of the new thrust into night court that had started in February of 2021. At the same time, it will also provide additional space for staff of the summary court system to contribute to the smooth processing of related matters.
The three new mediation rooms are also a welcome addition to the efforts of the recently installed National Mediation Committee which oversees a cadre of trained mediators whose task is to provide a buffer against over-burdening the normal litigation processes in the High Court. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court has been in the vanguard of promoting mediation across the subregion as a viable means of inexpensive conflict resolution. The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has invested heavily in training in recent years and has now further committed the resources of this new mediation centre.
The Law Library will be the first specialized public library in the Federation in which judges, magistrates, legal practitioners, litigants in person, students and the general public will have access to physical and online resources. The facility will also offer a dedicated reading room.
Highlights of the ceremony were as follows:
- Welcome Remarks by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs Ms. Diana Francis, who also chaired the proceedings
- Invocation of Blessings by Pastor Michael Penny
- Remarks by Acting Senior Magistrate His Honour Mr. Reynold Benjamin
- Remarks by Mr. Garth Wilkin, President of the Bar Association
- Remarks by Prof. Velma Newton, Law Librarian and Officer in Charge of the Caribbean Law Institute Centre and Regional Director of the Improved
- Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) Project.
- Feature Address by Attorney General Hon Vincent Byron Jr.
- Address by Prime Minister Hon Dr Timothy Harris
- Cutting of the Ribbon by Hon Prime Minister and Retired Judge, Her Ladyship Justice Pearletta Lanns
- Vote of Thanks by newly installed librarian Ms. Asha Moncrief
Other distinguished guests included the
- Deputy Prime Minister Hon Shawn Richards
- Other Cabinet colleagues Hon Lindsay Grant, Hon Jonel Powell and Hon Wendy Phipps
- His Lordship Justice Ermine Moise; who also serves as Chair of the Mediation Committee
- Other members of the Magistracy Ms. Donna Harris, Mr. Fitzroy Eddy and Mrs. Karen Hill-Hector
- Members of the inner and utter bar
- Other senior civil servants
The ceremony concluded with the unveiling of the sign, followed by a tour of the new facilities by the officiating party and invited guests.