BVI: New legislation offers OECS judges improved retirement packages

Dame Janice at opening of new law year in 2018

BVINEWS: Judges who serve on the bench of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) will now benefit from better retirement packages with the passage of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Judicial Officers Pensions Act, 2021.

The House of Assembly effortlessly passed the legislation yesterday. Premier Andrew Fahie said the aim was to bring a level of parity to the retirement packages and make the posts more attractive to persons who serve as judges in the region.

Among the provisions of the new legislation are an early retirement age, spousal assistance, housing, and other allowances being added to the benefits.

The Premier said Member States of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) were previously asked to consider increased salaries to make the posts more attractive. However, financial constraints prevented them from addressing that issue.

Member States then sought to amend their legislation so that regardless of wherever judges originated, the retirement packages would be the same no matter where they retired throughout the OECS region.

“The next possible solution given to all Member States of the OECS would be to work on a retirement package since the salary would be more of a challenge at that time,” Fahie explained.

Bid to attract more judges

Premier Fahie said Chief Justice, Dame Janice Pereira — a Virgin Gorda native — has actively championed the amendments to the legislation for many years in a bid to attract more officers of the court to the post.

In the past, the ECSC had to settle a lot of times for persons who served as judges in a part-time capacity or who were only able to serve when they were close to the end of their private practice careers, Fahie said.

He expressed that the court should now be able to attract younger judges.

With the passage of the amended legislation, Fahie explained that judges can now rest assured that after serving their tenure, they would be compensated accordingly considering the high demand and the high level at which they were being asked to function while in this position.

According to the Premier, this helped to make sure that their retirement package is one where judges won’t “suffer after being retired but rather be able to live a life and maintain their integrity and their dignity”. He said this was not happening before.

The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court was established in 1967 and is a superior court of record for the OECS.

It includes six Independent States — Antigua & Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines — and three British Overseas Territories comprising Anguilla, the Virgin British Islands, and Montserrat.

The Court has unlimited jurisdiction in each Member State and territory.

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