Speech by the Prime Minister

Address at the Swearing in of Hon. Justice Brian Sykes



The Honourable Andrew Holness ON, MP

Prime Minister of Jamaica

At the

Swearing in of Hon. Justice Brian Sykes

February 1, 2018


The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Justice Reverend Dr Anglin

Representatives of the Bar Association

Dr Crawford Sykes and other family members of Justice Sykes

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen


Today we mark a moment of passage and transition.

Firstly, let me say how grateful we are to the Honourable Mrs Justice Zaila McCalla for her many years of service to the nation. The Governor General said it quite eloquently but I will add one thing to what the Governor General said, you also made your counterpart gender very proud. You served with integrity, dignity and dedication and the nation is truly grateful for your service. I want to wish you continued health, happiness and don’t let anyone try to impress you into anything that you don’t feel the passion to do.

Today we welcome the Honourable Mr Justice Brian Patrick St George Sykes CD, as the new Acting Chief Justice. Justice Sykes has been recognized for his extra ordinary legal insight, clarity, erudition, his discipline, structure, efficiency and timeliness. Today’s ceremony is concerned with the traditions and conventions around the handing over of authority and indeed setting the expectations for the use of such authority and it obviously demands that we reaffirm the independence of the authority that is now being transitioned.

Independence from any influence that might improperly tilt the scales of justice, when a scale is heard the judge  must decide  it in the lonely room of his or her own conscience in accordance of course with the law without fear or favour or affection or ill-will, so we understand why judges often times they appear to be remote, aloof in the chill and distant house. Justice cannot be done in public rallies nor can it be done by opinion polls or in the comments or correspondents of journals. Having said that it is also important to reaffirm that the executive branch of government also has a primary interest in justice. In fact, the cabinet recently approved our medium term goal for the development of Jamaica. Patrick outlined very clearly what our 2030 vision is; place of choice for us to live, work, raise our families, do business and I’ve added on to it, retire in paradise but to get to the 2030 goal there  are some intermediate steps and we have set one intermediate objective which is the strengthening of the rule of law and timely justice outcomes; that’s our interest.

We noted carefully the concerns raised by the fraternity and the legal profession. We understand that we are in changing times, that we cannot continue purely to fulfil conventions for conventions sake. We recognize that we have to do what works, what brings results because for too long we have been complaining about the lack of results but continue to do things the same way and of course, there is a classic description of that kind of behaviour.

I noted carefully the calls that have come about how this process of appointment should be done. I can’t always respond to every claim that is made but I want to give you the assurance that I hear them and I think about them very carefully.

My ultimate responsibility is to protect the public’s interest. I believe that the selection that I have made by the authority vested in me and the Governor General through his authority is the best way to advance the public’s interest. The public is interested in the strengthening of the rule of law and the public wants to see timely justice outcomes. We looked carefully in selecting someone who we thought was not just erudite in his judgments but someone who will focus as well on the efficiency of the system because I believe that is now the loud clammer of the public. The public wants to see an efficient and timely justice system and above all else, that was my primary consideration.

I’m confident that Justice Sykes will act in the role of Chief Justice and very soon will fully assume the role of Chief Justice but as I said earlier and I close on the point, actions that bring results will determine the assumption of the role.