The Judiciary of Trinidad and Tobago has stated that while the court buildings are closed, it continues to offer services from its electronic platforms.
The Judiciary issued the statement after an article in the Guardian newspaper of March 30, 2020 stated that ‘Judiciary closes despite being deemed essential’.
In a press release, the Judiciary wishes to reiterate that it is simply reconfiguring its operations and recalls that it clearly stated that the Judiciary is making arrangements to provide its services in a time of a pandemic.
“This short period of retrofit takes into account not only the readiness of the Judiciary, but also of our stakeholders who have to link with us electronically. The Judiciary is therefore applying this brief period to getting its linkages in order. We continue to operate.”
Some of the services the Judiciary include:
- Doing online counselling sessions with children before the Children Court
- Doing online family counselling with Family Court customers
- Rapidly expanding video conferencing capability in the Prisons by quickly constructing containerized VC rooms
- Hearing charge cases remotely by online video hearings with police stations
- Introducing electronic filing for private attorneys and state attorneys with online payment of filing fees
- Introducing remote filing for self represented litigant
- Setting up a self represented litigants hotline
- Setting up a domestic violence court hotline to address applications for protection orders
- Calling recipients of maintenance for whom the Judiciary is holding money and arranging to send the funds to their accounts or to special bank pay cards
- Online applications to switch as many maintenance payors and recipients to CourtPay services as possible to ensure that recipients and children receive maintenance money without delay and that payors are able to pay without delay.
- Preparing the Judiciary’s chatbot on it’s website to provide information to the public
- Manning its special email address. [email protected] to field questions from and communicate with members of the public
- Supporting our judges and staff with a Judiciary medical response team of nurses and doctors who have been providing services 24/7 since the announcement of the country’s first case of COVID-19
- Using an appointment system to ensure social distancing in situations in which attendance by self represented litigants is completely unavoidable
- Conducting Family Mediation by online video and by teleconferencing
- Exploring a system of online civil and petty civil mediation
- Issuing court orders and warrants electronically
- E-lodging of Probate applications through Judiciary E-services platform
- Holding online court hearings in District Courts, High Court (Civil, Criminal, Family and Children) and Court of Appeal.