The Law’s Delay in Guyana

Apparently fed up with judges who sit on decisions for ever and ever, the government in Guyana is bringing in legislation, the Judicial Decisions Bill, that will place a 120 day absolute limit on how long after the conclusion of a civil trial a judge may take to release the decision. The statute requires a judge to give a decision as expeditiously as possible after the end of a trial, and persistent failure to abide by the ultimate limit may result in the judge’s removal from office.

Are there any such legislative requirements in Canada? I couldn’t find any with a quick and simple search. I would imagine that judicial writer’s block is not one of the principal causes of the law’s delay in this country, except in isolated cases.

[hat tip to Yemisi Dina, Associate Librarian, Osgoode Hall Law School / via Caribbean Net News]


  1. Simon – surely Section 123 of the Courts of Justice Act in Ontario, which built on section 11 of the old Judicature Act provide for this. There are also internal administrative processes for monitoring cases where judgments have been delayed. Guyana is far from being unique.

  2. Gosh – there’s a lot of law on this point.

    Here is the CJC’s Ethical Principles for Judges: The proper preparation of judgments is frequently difficult and time consuming. However, the decision and reasons should be produced by the judge as soon as reasonably possible, having due regard to the urgency of the matter and other special circumstances. Special circumstances may include illness, the length or complexity of the case, an unusually heavy workload or other factors making it impossible to give judgment sooner. In 1985, the Canadian Judicial Council resolved that, in its view, reserved judgments should be delivered within six months after hearings, except in special circumstances

    Canadian Judicial Council Resolution September 1985; Legislation and Rules of Court may establish times within which judgment is to be given: see for example Code of Civil Procedure (Qc), article 465; repeated inability to give timely judgment has been the basis of a number of complaints to the Canadian Judicial Council: see Canadian Judicial Council, Annual Report 1992-93 at 14

    There are parallel provisions to Ontario in PEI – see MacNeill v. Stetson, [1998] 158 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 232.

    There are provisions for JPs, and R. v. Nelson Granite Limited, (2007), 49 C.R. (6th) 125 discusses s. 13(1) of the Justices of the Peace Act.

    The media have even discussed the issue: Mentally ill wait in jail for justice to be done – Judge fails to rule on legality for 20 months, in The Ottawa Citizen for November 10, 2004.

    There’s a section (148) in the Code de procedure criminelle that deals with this too: see the ECHR decision in Civet c. France.