The 2016 legal year has been officially opened, Monday in a ceremonial sitting at the High Court.
The event started off with the inspection of the Guard of Honour in front of the High Court by Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer.
This followed by speeches from the Attorney General, President of the Bar Association and the Chief Justice.
Sir Albert said as an annual event which marks the beginning of a new legal year, it is an important occasion for all legal workers.
“It gives us the opportunity to reflect on the achievements and progress of the past year and to look forward to the year ahead of us.
“It is also an occasion to renew our commitment to our noble tasks in delivery of justice and the pursuit of the Rule of Law.”
In his 20 paged speech, Sir Albert covered four key themes which were, Independence of the Judiciary as an institution, Delivering Justice, Access to Justice and Leadership and Good Governance with the overall specific theme of “Raising Standards.”
“I have decided this year to pick up a specific theme that should apply to all lawyers and judicial officers and staff in the National Judiciary which you can rely on as a challenge but also to spur you on to improve your work this year.
“This theme to ‘raise standards’ is a call to improve on what you have achieved last year and not to be contented with the achievements of the past.
“If you have failed to maintain standards last year, then it is a call to raise your standards so that that standard in your work in the delivery of justice to this country is restored.”
Sir Albert took the opportunity to congratulate the Attorney General, Mr James Apaniai who is also a former Judge of the High Court on his appointment last year.
“I look forward to working closely with you to advance the work of the courts and the legal profession in this New Year 2016.”
Sir Albert also congratulated the new President of the Bar Association of Solomon Islands Mr Whitlam Togamae.
He thanked the Commissioner of Police for the Guard of Honour put up by members of the Police Force for him to inspect.
“I wish to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the police for the crucial role they play in maintaining law and order on the ground, for their hard work, commitment and dedication to duty and their contributions to the administration of justice and the work of the courts in the country.”
He thanked everyone including his brother judges, Chief Magistrates and all magistrates, past advisors and all lawyers for their continuous support and acknowledging the assistance of the New Zealand government, Papua New Guinea Government and the Republic of China through their Diplomatic Missions here in Solomon Islands.
Also acknowledged is the assistance of the Australian Government and People through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) and the Australian High Commission Office in Solomon Islands for its continual support and commitment to the people and Government of Solomon Islands under the ‘Solomon Islands – Australia Partnership for Development’ and ‘Partnership Priority outcome 2: Improved Justice Services.
“Under the Partnership its overall aim is to strengthen the legal system and increase access to justice for communities across Solomon Islands towards a number of targets by 2017.
At the end of his speech, he declared the court’s door open to the public “may the wheels of justice commence and may the Rule of Law prevail”.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN