The agreement provides for the establishment of electronic filing and case management systems, an online helpdesk, and training for the utilization of the e-filing system. When implemented the new systems are expected to improve the provision of efficient legal services and establish more effective systems for monitoring, analysing and reporting on case trends to strengthen accountability and transparency in judicial procedures.
In her remarks, Hon. Marin Young said,
“The digital innovation in Belize’s court system aims to enable people in Belize to access justice in a more efficient and timely manner. We are pleased that we will be able to use the Curia system developed by APEX in our courts. This is the same proven system that has been employed by the Caribbean Court of Justice, one of the most technology advanced courts in the world. Soon practitioners in Belize will see the entire process of litigation being rendered paperless. All filings will be done on an electronic platform, using laptops or even mobile phones.”
Both the Acting Chief Justice of Belize, Hon. Michelle Arana, and the Acting President of the Court of Appeal of Belize, Hon. Minnet Hafiz-Bertram, have embraced this initiative to digitize their respective courts, as part of a wider effort to improve justice delivery, through the development of online courts and digital processes.
Justice Adrian Saunders, President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), noted that justice cannot be insulated from the digital revolution taking place in other sectors.
Justice Saunders said,
“As technology innovations continue to advance, the law and justice system in the Caribbean should embrace it and not be afraid of the changes to tradition and practice it entails. This is why APEX was created to support the technology innovation as well as the capacity building that is necessary to effectively adopt technology across the region.”
Justice Saunders added that the era of paper-filled law offices and courts is fading as new technology becomes available to empower both the administrative and judicial proceedings of a case.
Executive Director of APEX, Mr. Bevil Wooding shared that the MOU is in keeping with the mandate of the not-for-profit Agency to modernize court systems and processes in the Caribbean.
“APEX is unique in that it is the only regional agency dedicated to the development and delivery of technology-enabled solutions and capacity building services to strengthen and advance Caribbean justice-ecosystems.”
He explained that the development cooperation agreement with the Belize government went beyond the provision of the APEX technology solutions.
“APEX has an obligation to ensure that people in Belize and throughout the Caribbean are well equipped, well trained, and well-positioned to maximize available technology. Therefore, APEX has built out a range of capacity building, institutional strengthening, mentorship and leadership development programs to support its technology solutions,” Wooding shared.
APEX is a non-profit agency established by the CCJ in 2016 to support digital transformation in courts throughout the region. The agency has developed a suite of technology to strengthen national and regional justice institutions to deliver improved services.
At the Twenty-Seventh Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, held in Placencia, on 16-17 February 2016, the Heads of CARICOM “welcomed the initiative, led by the CCJ in consultations with judiciaries of CARICOM Member States, to develop an indigenous, integrated electronic filing platform for courts in the Community.” Now, the Government of Belize is reaping the fruits of this endeavour.