**Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, M.P.
Attorney General & Minister of Legal Affairs**

Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson addressed the Supreme Court at the Opening of its Legal Year 2007 earlier this week. She spoke to the history and the importance of the Supreme Court, noting that The Bahamas has a strong and noble heritage that it must protect.

The Minister took the opportunity to report that the government will be building a state of the art $70 million Judicial Complex, expected to contain the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the Industrial Tribunal. Also provided was an update on the integrated justice system, about to commence operations, and designed to promote more efficient utilization of court time.

Other proposals now in the consultation stage involve the secure digital recording and storage of all judicial proceedings, and provisions for immediate availability of transcripts in selected proceedings.

Minister Maynard-Gibson also spoke to the progress being made on the Swift Justice initiative, noting that the Bahamian public rightly demands that those charged with responsibility for the administration of justice “get behind it and make it work”. That project has been described as the “most significant” initiative in addressing the issues of law and order — a model she says that can be implemented throughout the region. The Swift Justice initiative provides a keener focus to the work of the criminal prosecutions side of the Office of the Attorney General, with an integral component of the programme being the review of systems currently in place. This involves collaboration between the institutions and agencies within the criminal justice system, and also with victims and their families. This integrated approach, says the Attorney General, is designed to strengthen transparency and accountability.

Significant changes are being implemented at the Office of the Attorney General, specifically with regard to technological advancements, promoting greater efficiency. The OAG, she said, is committed to greater accountability and transparency *”We will continue to work in partnership with the judiciary to ensure that justice is done and that every citizen may exercise his or her constitutional right to have his or her matter heard before the courts in a timely manner.”*

**Court of Appeal Opening**

Last week, the Minister also opened the Legal Year for the **Bahamas Court of Appeal**, established by Article 98 of The Constitution of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas. At that time she referenced the world and Bahamian history made when **Her Majesty’s Privy Council**, an institution in continuous existence since the 17th century and The Bahamas’ highest appellate court, sat in December 2006, in Nassau. This was the first time the Council had sat outside of the United Kingdom, and members of The Bar, and Bahamians generally, were able to see first hand the inner workings of the final court of appeal. Some members of the Bar were able to address the court.

The Attorney General pointed out that the fact litigants before the courts are able to have final appellate access to the Privy Council under girds the confidence that has been displayed nationally and internationally in the country. *”Our strong judicial system is a vital component supporting our political democracy, which has been in continuous existence for more than 275 years. We must all work together to protect and enhance the strong confidence in our judicial system felt by Bahamians and non Bahamians alike.”*

Noting that the Courts are for the benefit of The People, litigants before the courts, she invited all concerned with the administration of justice – whether in constitutionally or statutorily defined roles – to study carefully, openly and frankly the importance of the relationship between bench and bar and to examine how this relationship might be improved. *”As Attorney General and Leader of The Bar, I give my personal commitment and I commit my entire team and the resources available to us to the development and enhancement of the administration of justice in The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”*