Understanding the Law
August 26, 2011
Civil Procedure Rules 2000

There are two types of laws: the substantive laws and the procedural laws/rules.
Procedural laws, as the word suggests, tell us how to proceed with matters for which persons seek a resolution by the court. Our rules were produced in the year 2000 and we are provided with guidance for most civil matters.{{more}} There are some matters such as family laws that are not covered by the Rules. We continue to explain the Rules in an effort to give you an understanding of the work of your lawyer.

Who can search a court file?
There are times when your lawyer or some other person might need to examine certain documents in a court file. It might be a claim form, or a judgment or a notice of appeal (Part 3.14). It could be a live matter or a matter that is completed. The law entitles a person who pays the required fees to search a file and take a copy of a claim form, a judgment or a notice of appeal. For other documents, the person seeking a copy is required to get the leave of the court. However, the parties to such matters are not required to secure leave of the court to inspect or take a copy of a document. News reporters or your neighbour, unless he or she is a party to the matter, cannot obtain a court document such as an affidavit without the leave of the court.
Time is of essence. This is an expression that is used generally, but is of significance in the law. Part 3 of the Rules deals extensively with the laws pertaining to time. It takes nothing for granted and even specifies the time when vacation of the court is taken. The Supreme Court has three vacation periods similar to that of the school system, namely in Easter, August and Christmas. The Easter vacation is roughly one week, starting on Holy Thursday and finishing on the Saturday after Easter Sunday; the Christmas vacation runs from December 23rd to January 10th; the August vacation is the longest and lasts from August 1st to September 15th. Vacation is a break from the normal schedule of court hearings. There is usually a meeting of Judges and Registrars of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court at the headquarters in St. Lucia during the vacation.
Matters heard in vacation
Matters are not generally heard in the vacation, but if there is an urgent matter the High court and the Court of Appeal would hear the appeal or an application, but the party must make an application to the court.
The overriding objective of the court.
Our court system was designed to meet the needs of the parties for justice. The Rules recognize the need to bring justice to the party, and with the overriding objectives it purports to deal justly with all parties concerned. To save expenses, cases must be done quickly. Moreover, according to Part 1, consideration must be given to “the amount of money involved, the complexity of the issues and the financial ability of the parties. “ There is no other institution in our society that has the power to deal with the grievances of the people as the court system and it has the power to deal fairly with the parties. If a party is not satisfied at the first instance he or she could go to the appeal courts.
Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.

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