Reducing judicial backlogThere is still much more that can be undertaken by way of initiatives to further reduce the backlog of cases that have crippled the Judiciary’s ability to dispense justice in an efficient, effective and timely manner.This is the position of Guyana’s former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, who on Thursday lauded the progress made over the last the ten years under the Canada-based Justice Education Society (JES) which has been providing enhanced training to judges, magistrates and policemen.He explained that the 2016 allocation of $25 million to be spent on establishmentActing Chief Justice Roxane George, SCof night court at the Georgetown Magistrates Courts was also a step in the right direction.His comments come on the heels of a statement made by acting Chief Justice Roxane George, SC, who highlighted the extent to which the backlog still persists, revealing that at the High Court level, between 4,500 and 5000 cases are on record. While she did highlight that cases encompass divorces, civil trial matters [and] full court matters, Justice George observed that 14 judges, included herself, are presiding over these matters.Nandlall, in an interview with Guyana Times, contended that the former PPP administration should be credited for the reduction, because of the initiatives which were implemented under successive PPP Legal Affairs Ministers and Attorneys General, which are still being undertaken by the current Government.“What we are witnessing now is the result of our initiatives which were embarked upon. Thousands of cases had to be cleared up before you could have seen the results,” he stressed.He, however, told this publication that more initiatives still have to be implemented to ensure that the reduction continues, chief of which is being to appoint additional judges to the bench.“We increased the complement of judges (and) special courts were established to deal with special matters. Perhaps the current ratio of judge to case clearly shows that we need more judges,” he stressed.The former minister, however, cautioned that while the payment package for judges is “reasonable”, the State has to be cognizant when taking on persons to fill the posts, given the nature of the profession.He called for more full court sittings in Berbice and Essequibo, saying that there is need to have more physical space to accommodate the additional judges.“We need to expand the courts in Essequibo and Berbice. What you have in Berbice is two judges sitting, one for Civil and the other (for) criminal. At any given time, one can easily double that without any hardship on the system,” Nandall stated.As with the Sexual Offences Court in Demerara, the former Legal Affairs Minister called for automated system in the courts, which would relieve Judges and Magistrates from the arduous task of writing all of what is said in court.“The voice recording equipment needs to be implemented and used. People were trained to use system and were trained to produce verbatim records within 24 hours. They need to use that system,” he urged.The Acting Chief Justice had explained to the Department of Public Information (DPI) that the High Court now operates under the Civil Procedures Rules which were introduced on February 6, 2017, as opposed to the “old High Court Rules”“There are a number of them that we call live matters in the sense that they are matters that will go to trial unless the parties agree to settle, but we also have a number of matters that will not be going to trial. Under the old High Court Rules, a judge must adjudicate to formally complete them,” DPI quoted her as saying.The acting CJ noted further that 1,500 matters are before the Court that require trials or a full hearing. The remaining, from estimation, will have to be passed through the Court for them to be formally closed. It was explained that under the Civil Procedures Rules, there are Fixed Date and statement of claim matters. For 2017, a total of 2,063 Fixed date applications was filed, and 1,452 were completed. Four hundred and forty (440) statements of Claim matters were filed, of which 54 were completed. For 2018, a total of 214 Fixed Date Applications were filed, with 95 completed. And 37 Statement of Claim matters were filed and 4 were completed. Judges are rotated to the other two counties each session for at least three months, DPI reported.When contacted on Thursday evening, Guyana Bar Association President Kamal Ramkarran was not available for comment.