Cayman could see the introduction of an electronic ticketing system through which traffic offenders can instantly pay their fines rather than having to head to the courts.
It is one of the initiatives Chief Justice Anthony Smellie is pushing for this year as he moves to try to reduce the strain on judicial resources.
Smellie, in outlining the challenges faced by the judiciary last week, said this year the courts will re-engage with police leaders on the use of e-ticketing machines.
E-tickets could help with backlog
The aim is to avoid unnecessary hearings and enhance the process for dealing with ticket offences such as speeding.
“The intention is to allow for the electronic filing of traffic tickets into the courts’ JEMS [Judicial Enforcement Management] register, immediately as the tickets are issued by the officers on the streets. Persons who wish to simply pay the tariff instead of going to court may do so. The cases will then be completed, the files will be closed, and the RCIPS notified automatically, as soon as that is done,” Smellie said in his 2020 report at the Grand Court opening.
The chief justice lamented the ongoing pressure within local courts from space constraints to workload challenges for the Summary Court.
He said the benefits of an automated process have been recognised for many years.
“It will obviously save a great deal of administrative time, effort and costs for both the courts and the RCIPS. I am pleased that the commissioner [of police] is reported to be as resolved as we are to achieve this and am more confident than ever that implementation will soon be a reality,” he said.
Technology-based solutions in motion
The e-ticketing system is just one of several technology-based initiatives the judiciary is undertaking in efforts to enhance court operations.
Smellie said the courts’ e-Filing and Jury Management Platform is now fully functional and ready for the start of the pilot programme.
Law firms Grant Thornton, Carey Olsen, Ogier, Maples and Calder, and Deloitte have agreed to participate in the e-filing pilot programme, with instructions for commencement to be issued soon.
The chief justice also announced the launch of the online public register platform on the judiciary website.
Prior to the online platform, access to court documents was confined to the physical inspection of the hard-copy registers at court.
The online registers, Smellie said, go back to 1995 when the modern Grand Court Rules were promulgated.
“For the moment, the website access will be ‘read only’ until an appropriate new fee structure to allow downloading and printing access can be agreed with Cabinet. A proposal for the new fees, which we propose to be less than the existing fees because of the saving of administrative costs, will soon be sent to Cabinet,” Smellie said in his report.
Also included in the online service platform, he said, is access to more than 1,000 of the unreported judgments. The remaining 3,000-4,000 judgments will soon be accessible to the public on the platform, he said.
Smellie also said that the courts implemented a facility for the electronic transfer of funds for child-maintenance payments.
“More than 500 clients now receive their weekly, bi-weekly or monthly maintenance payments through this electronic transfer system. The facility is also available to those who wish to pay traffic ticketing fines to settle the tickets without appearing before the court,” Smellie added.