Entornointeligente.com / THE EDITOR, Madam:
The Jamaican Bar Association has noted the ongoing conversation on a recently published article penned by Mr Justice Batts, raising the concern (shared by this association) that the Government has declined to follow the recommendations of the Ninth Independent Commission on Judicial Emoluments (the ‘Independent Commission’).
The Jamaican Bar Association upholds the time-honoured position of ensuring a degree of public and social insulation for judges so that judges could not be said to be compromised or have their impartiality questioned. Equally important is that judges’ compensation ensures their independence.
The association fully agrees with this statement from the Independent Commission’s report:
“[T]here remains a strong and pressing need to ensure a meaningful adjustment to the compensation packages of higher court justices to attract, recruit and retain persons of the highest calibre, professionally and personally, to the judiciary; to preserve judicial independence; and to minimise flight risk.”
Having considered all relevant factors, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Independent Commission recommended an increase in base salary of approximately 30 per cent, effective April 2018, with six per cent annual increases in 2019 and 2020. Had the Independent Commission’s recommendations been accepted, a puisne judge would now be paid $12.7 million, effective April 2020 (excluding housing), instead of the $9.4 million (excluding housing) that was reported in your news report on May 20, 2021. In other words, Mr Justice Batts was correct when he said that the increase in salaries bore no relation to that which the Independent Commission recommended.
The Jamaica Bar Association has consistently highlighted the need for the Government to invest more in the justice system.
We are therefore as disappointed as the judiciary must be, to see the limited extent to which the Independent Commission’s recommendations have been adopted.
PRESIDENT – THE JAMAICAN
LINK ORIGINAL: Jamaica Gleaner