Understanding the Law
September 30, 2011
Practice directions

Practice Directions are features of the Laws in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and are part of the English tradition. They are given in both Civil and Criminal procedural laws. They are a great help because they assist and provide guidelines for the interpretation of procedures. The ordinary man on the street would only need to have knowledge of these, if he is representing himself in court, but if he has retained a lawyer on his behalf, then his lawyer would have knowledge of these.{{more}} Most often they are provided as additional instructions after procedural law is given. Some procedural rules would state precisely that practice directions are needed.

The Civil Procedure Rules 2000, Part 4.2 (1) expressly provide for practice directions to be issued by the Chief Justice. However, pursuant to Part 4.2 (2), practice directions could be issued if not expressly noted. It is the duty of the Supreme Court to follow all practice directions.

Need for publication

According to the Civil Procedure Rules, practice directions must be published in the Government Gazette and copies must be “displayed and made available at the court office.” This makes it an obligation to comply. The consequence is that if a party does not observe practice directions that party would have to pay costs for his or her default. The date when the practice direction comes into effect has to be stated on the direction.

Recent Practice Directions

The Chief Justice, the Honourable Hugh Anthony Rawlins, has so far issued ten practice directions for 2011. They are noted in the form No. 1 of 2011 and No. 10 of 2011, respectively. All these practice directions are to come into effect on October 1st, 2011, as stated on the directions.

Practice Direction No. 1 of 2011

Practice direction No. 1 of 2011 goes to Part 5.1 (2) of the Civil Procedure Rules 2000, (The Rules). This part provides for the use of electronic “means of communication” (including FAX and e-mail) in the court system. Sometime this year, I gave you two articles on the subject of electronics in the court and had shown how more effective the laws could be with the use of electronics. Although the Rules provided for “electronic means”, there was not sufficient information to put into effect. The practice directions give tangible ways of how to proceed. It describes “electronic means” precisely. It includes the use of CD ROMs, memory stick, FAX. The party who is serving the document must communicate with the other party about the capabilities of the party to receive electronic document (other than FAX). A signature printed by computer or other means would suffice. The other party must request a hard copy if he or she so desires, that is a copy sent by hand or mail. The use of electronics does not mean that personal service is dispensed with; it is only an alternative use.

Practice Direction No. 2 of 2011

This practice direction supplements two areas of Part 8 of the Rules. In an earlier article I told you that fixed date claims are used for certain matters such as hire purchase and possession of land, among others, and that the first hearing is done in open court. I believe that this would be highly welcomed by lawyers as it gives them a chance to decide whether they want a matter to be done in Chambers or open court.

This direction also supplements Part 8.2 (1) by providing more information on the filing of statement of claims and affidavits with the claim form.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: [email protected]