To be eligible for appointment as a Chief Justice, an applicant:
- must be qualified to practice as an attorney-at-law in a court in Belize or as an advocate in a court in any other part of the Commonwealth having unlimited jurisdiction either in civil or criminal causes or matters and has been qualified for not less than five years so to practice in such a court.
- must be in good health. In particular, he should have satisfactory sight and hearing (with technological assistance if required) and should also be able to sit and to concentrate for long periods of time. The selection process will include submission to an examination by a medical practitioner approved by the Prime Minister.
- must be a person who conducts himself at all times, both in his professional and personal life, in a matter that will maintain public confidence in the standards of the judiciary.
The Governor-General will appoint a candidate to the office of Chief Justice acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.
CRITERIA FOR APPOINTMENT
The Governor-General will appoint individuals who best satisfy the eligibility criteria and display the following attributes to the highest degree.
Legal knowledge and Experience
Successful candidates will have attained:
- A high level of understanding of the principles of law and jurisprudence.
- A comprehensive knowledge of the rules of evidence and of court practice and procedure.
Skills and Abilities
- Sound judgment, being able to:
- exercise discretion effectively;
- apply knowledge and experience to make decisions which are in compliance with the law and appropriate to the circumstances of the matter in hand;
- consider competing arguments and reason logically to a balanced conclusion.
- Intellectual and analytical ability, being able to:
- listen and concentrate for long periods of time, understand and assimilate facts and arguments, and recall such evidence and information speedily and accurately;
- apply legal principles to particular facts and to determine from a large body of information those issues and facts which are relevant and important and those which are not;
- weigh relevant issues and matters of law in order to be able to formulate them for reasoned and coherent presentation; and
- apply the law creatively.
- Management Skills:
- Be highly organized, with excellent case management of cases and time management skills;
- Is able to manage professional staff as well as administrative staff;
- Is known for his or her initiative and leadership;
- Command the respect of court users and maintain fair-minded discipline in the court and chambers without appearing pompous, arrogant or overbearing;
- Promote the expeditious dispatch of litigation, preventing unnecessary prolixity, repetition and irrelevance whilst ensuring that all parties (whether represented or not, and including children) are able to present their case or their evidence as fully and fairly as possible; and
- Keeping abreast of legal developments and court technology and the ability to use court technology to case manage cases.
- Decisiveness: Having the ability to reach firm conclusions (often at speed), to think, decide and act immediately of others, and to rely on their own judgment and to delivery oral and written judgments in a timely manner;
- Communication and listening skills: Being able to communicate effectively with all types of court users including lay people (whether defendants, witnesses, members of a jury, litigants in person or children), giving instructions, explaining complex issues and giving decisions in judgments clearly and concisely, both orally and, where necessary, in writing.
- Having a history of honesty, discretion and plain dealing with professional colleagues, clients and the courts;
- Possessing independence of mind and moral courage, being prepared to take and maintain unpopular decisions when necessary;
- Having trust, confidence and respect of others; and
- Displaying discretion as to the publication of any personal views on issues whether in writing or orally or video graphically on social media or any media platform or forum.
- Being open-minded and objective, with the ability to recognize and personal prejudices and to set them aside;
- Being able to deal impartially with all matters which come before them and ensure that all those who appear before them have an opportunity for their cases to be clearly presented and considered as fully and dispassionately as possible; and
- Being able to know when to recuse oneself from a matter because of any apparent or inherent or any demonstrated bias.
- Understanding of People and Society: Having knowledge and understanding of, and respect for people from all social backgrounds, being sensitive to the influence of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds on the attitudes and behaviour of people whom they encounter in the course of their work.
- Maturity and sound temperament:
- Displaying a maturity of attitude and approach; and
- Being firm and decisive while remaining patient, tolerant, good humoured and even tempered.
- Courtesy and humanity:
- Being courteous and considerate to all court users and court staff; and
- Having and conveying understanding of, the needs and the concerns of court users, and being sensitive and humane.
- Commitment: A commitment to public service and to the proper and efficient administration of justice, which they pursued conscientiously, with energy and diligence and a due sense of responsibility.
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