The Right Honourable Sir Charles Michael Dennis Byron is the President of the Caribbean Court of Justice and Chairman of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute (CJEI). He has also served as President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and as a former Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC).
Sir Dennis read law at Cambridge University and was called to the Bar of England and Wales at the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple in 1965. He distinguished himself in private practice as a Barrister-at-Law and Solicitor throughout the Leeward Islands from 1966 to 1982, with chambers in Saint Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla. His judicial career began in 1982 when he was appointed as a High Court Judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. In 1999, Judge Byron acted Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court for two years and was later appointed to the role.
In 2004, Sir Dennis was appointed a permanent Judge of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which is located in Tanzania. In 2007, he was elected President of the ICTR, responsible for the overall management of that international tribunal. He was sworn in as President of the CCJ, in his home country of Saint Kitts and Nevis, on 1 September 2011.
He was knighted in 2000 and was appointed a member of the Privy Council in 2004. In 2004, Sir Dennis was appointed an Honorary Bencher of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple and holds the first Yogis & Keddy Chair in Human Rights Law at Dalhousie University. In 2010, Sir Dennis was made an Honorary Fellow by his alma mater, Fitzwilliam College of Cambridge University.
Sir Dennis has been a keynote speaker and guest lecturer at renowned events and conferences across several continents. He will demit office in July 2018.
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Byron commenced his illustrious judicial career in 1982 when at the age of 38 years he was appointed as a High Court Judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC). After his elevation to the position of Chief Justice of the ECSC, he was widely regarded as the pioneer of several landmark judicial reform programmes, including the introduction of court-connected mediation in Saint Lucia and, subsequently, throughout the Eastern Caribbean region.
Sir Dennis continued to blaze this pathway of judicial excellence when he arrived at the CCJ in 2011 and the Court has flourished in many areas under his leadership. He has had a transformative influence on the judicial, administrative and technical operations of the CCJ. His leadership is rooted in a desire to achieve excellence at levels of the operations of the Court through a continuous process of assessment and improvement. Through the development of measurable performance standards throughout the Court, he has facilitated a progressive environment that promotes sustainable growth and evolution.
The following represents a selected listing of some of Sir Dennis’ more notable achievements during his tenure:
- The creation of APEX, a non-profit agency, dedicated to advocating for the use of technology to strengthen the justice systems of the region and improve the efficiency of court-related services.
- The deployment of the CURIA e-Filing and Case Management suite within the CCJ, including a performance tool-kit and mobile application, which has enabled the Court to transform its day-to-day judicial and registry functions.
- The application of comprehensive case management techniques to the judicial workload of the Court resulting in the current statistics of most cases being disposed of within 9 months of the date of filing and the absence of any pervasive case backlogs.
- Oversaw the biennial revision and amendment of the CCJ’s Rules of Court for the Original and Appellate Jurisdictions.
- Pioneered approaches to judicial and administrative functions that promote a paperless environment within the Court (making use of software similar to FilecenterDMS.com) which reduces the financial and environmental costs associated with sustained paper dependence.
- Led the development of the first Strategic Plan for the Court for the period 2003 – 2017 and initiated the process for the development of the 2018 – 2023 Plan, placing emphasis on stakeholder engagement and sensitisation activities.
- Commissioned a distinguished group of jurists and academicians for the publication of The Caribbean Court of Justice: The First Ten Years which compiles perspectives on the first ten years of the CCJ’s operations.
- Oversaw the implementation of the Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening (JURIST) Project, a five-year regional Caribbean judicial reform initiative funded under an arrangement with the Government of Canada on behalf of the Conference of the Heads of Judiciary of CARICOM.
- Supported the establishment of the Caribbean Community Administrative Tribunal (CCAT) aimed at finally providing a mechanism for resolving disputes between employees and their CARICOM institution employers that enjoy immunity from civil suits.