Government is making preparations to have the District ‘C’ Court sit in Antigua.
That court convenes every quarter on the sister island to deal with offences that are committed there.
A magistrate and clerk would travel to Barbuda to deal with the cases over a five-day period.
However, because the island was devastated by Hurricane Irma, alternative arrangements have to be made.
Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin said an order will be made permitting that all matters in the Barbuda court be tried in Antigua.
“I want to put you on notice that this has to be done, to have a section in Antigua or one of the courts designated for hearing District ‘C’ matters in light of the emergency,” Benjamin said.
Based on the law, the courts are divided into various districts – District ‘A’ deals with cases in St. John’s, District ‘B’ matters outside of St John’s and District ‘C’ cases on Barbuda – and accused persons normally have their case heard in the particular court district where the offence was committed.
“But since now it is impossible, impracticable to have court in Barbuda in District ‘C’ and emergency requires it, we will make an order to have all matters which should have been held on Barbuda to be held in a court in Antigua for a specified period of time.”
Within a week legal drafters within the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs will prepare for filing the order which will be presented to the attorney general declaring that all criminal matters which should be tried on Barbuda will now be heard in Antigua.
Benjamin said this has to be done so “that no smart lawyer will come and say you are in the wrong district because they can get the matter thrown out for that, you have no jurisdiction”.
The court was expected to sit next week (September 19).