August 16, 2019
The National Tripartite Council (NTC), in keeping with its statutory function of liaising with national and regional institutions as touching matters related to labour and industrial relations, commends The Bahamas Industrial Tribunal for its outstanding work in the implementation of its Electronic Filing and Case Management Service, effective Monday August 12, 2019.
Mrs. Rionda Godet of Deleveaux, Godet and Co., also an Executive Member of the National Tripartite Council, made history by becoming the first attorney to submit a case to The Bahamas Industrial Tribunal electronically at 5:01 p.m. on Monday August 12, 2019. This landmark achievement means that for the first time, litigants, advocates and legal representatives accessing The Bahamas Industrial Tribunal will now be able to e-file and manage their cases anytime, anywhere, including the Family Islands.
Not only is this an historic day in The Bahamas, but the launch of the Electronic Filing and Case Management Service is a first for any Industrial Tribunal in the English-speaking Caribbean. Mrs. Indira Francis, President of The Bahamas Industrial Tribunal noted that individuals requesting services from the Tribunal now have a much more convenient way to do so using the new e-filing portal.
This innovation in industrial relations in The Bahamas is in keeping with one of the National Tripartite Council Strategic Objectives to transform the Industrial Tribunal and to make the Industrial Dispute System in the country more effective.
In a recent meeting with members of the National Tripartite Council, Chief Justice, Brian Moree, Q.C., expressed his support for a system of binding arbitration to reduce the amount of disputes before the Industrial Tribunal. The National Tripartite Council is of the view that the new e-filing system will save litigation parties both time and costs associated with traveling - in some cases from as far as the Family Islands - to deliver and process paper documents, while at the same time, the new e-system will increase productivity and efficiency in the Tribunal.
As the National Tripartite Council falls within his Ministry, Senator the Hon. Dion Foulkes, Minister of Labour noted that this is a momentous day for the labor movement in The Bahamas as the launch of the e-filing system benefits all workers in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. He added that the Industrial Tribunal should be applauded for taking this bold initiative and innovative approach to service delivery as it bodes well for the administration of justice and will have a direct and immediate impact on the system of dispute resolution in The Bahamas.
Robert Farquharson, Chairman of the NTC noted that the elimination of paper filings and the introduction of the e-filing system benefits all social partners, including employees and employers, in The Bahamas, by facilitating the easy and quick filing of cases and the uploading of documents using a simple three-step online process and a secure login from any computer or mobile device with an Internet connection.
The new e-filing system was implemented for the Tribunal in record time by APEX, a Caribbean-based non-profit technology agency established by the Caribbean Court of Justice in 2017 to support the modernization of courts in the Caribbean.
"We were able to implement the solution in under a month. This was due to the fact that the Tribunal was in a state of readiness for computerization and had recently completed its case backlog elimination exercise. However, we were also well assisted by our dedicated staff and by the team from APEX", said President Francis.
With the new e-filing system, the Industrial Tribunal can provide faster, more efficient and cost-effective service. Lawyers can use the new e-filing platform to submit case documents and keep track of already filed documents," said Bevil Wooding, Executive Director of APEX. Judges and registry staff also have secure access to filed documents at the Tribunal, as well as on their mobile phones and tablets."
Farquharson noted that the same e-filing online portal installed at the Industrial Tribunal is also being used by the Caribbean Court of Justice and the Jamaica Legal Council and is currently being deployed by courts in Barbados.