Does Not Apply To Accused Persons
Witnesses living outside Anguilla, and required to provide evidence at preliminary inquiries in the Magistrate’s Court, can now do so through video link facilities rather that coming to the island. This, however, does not apply to accused persons who will be required to appear in person before the court to answer criminal charges.
The new arrangement has been provided by the Magistrate’s Court Code of Procedure (Amendment Act), 2020, passed in the Anguilla House of Assembly on Tuesday, October 6. The Bill, among other pieces of draft legislation, was taken to the House by Attorney General, Mr. Dwight Horsford.
In piloting the Bill through the House, Mr. Horsford stressed that it provided for evidence to be taken by video link from witnesses only, other than accused persons. He indicated that the arrangement was made in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. He observed that it was necessary to have the provision as the virus had affected all aspects of social function; and that the functioning of the court was no different as its processes had also been directly impacted. He said evidence, given by witnesses via video link, would enable the Magistrate’s Court to proceed smoothly with its work without clogging up the system.ADVERTISEMENT
The Magistrate’s Court Code of Procedure (Amendment Act), 2020, was one of four draft Bills introduced by the Attorney General. Two of them which were also passed, following the second and third readings, were a Bill for a Recording of Court Proceedings Act, 2020; and a Bill for a Courts of Justice Fees (Amendment) Act, 2020. The fourth, a Bill for an Evidence (Amendment) Act, 2020, was withdrawn by the Attorney General who said that its provisions were already covered by the just passed Magistrate’s Court Code of Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The main speakers on the Bills were the Leader of the Opposition, Mrs. Cora Richardson-Hodge (Member for District 2); Minister of Social Development and Education, Ms. Dee-Ann Kentish-Rogers (Member for Valley South); and Minister of Infrastructure, Mr. Haydn Hughes (Member for Road South).
There was general mutual agreement across the political divide of the House, with Government and Opposition Members working in full cooperation. The Attorney General was grateful that they supported his legislative presentations.
Just before the adjournment of the House, until October 27, Members of both sides of the Assembly paid tribute to the late Mrs. Veda Gumbs of North Hill. Mrs. Gumbs, who passed away on September 24, was the mother of Mr. Merrick Richardson, Ministerial Assistant in the Ministry of Education and Social Development.