Office of the Prime Minister Appointment to the Office of Chief Justice Guide for Applicants
1.1 The purpose of this guide is to assist applicants for the office of Chief Justice. It is arranged in four parts.
1.2 Applicants are advised to ensure that they read and fully understand the contents of this guide before they complete and submit their application form.
2.1 To be eligible for appointment as a Chief Justice, an applicant:
[a] 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.
[b] 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.
[c] 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.
2.2 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.
2.3 The Governor-General will appoint the candidate who appears to be best qualified, with reference to the criteria (see paragraph 3), regardless of gender, ethnic origin, marital status, sexual orientation, political affiliation, religion, disability, except where the disability prevents the fulfillment of the physical requirements of the office.
2.4 If you are unsure whether you are eligible to apply, please communicate with the Secretary to the Office of the Prime Minister, who will be able to assist you.
3.1 The Governor-General will appoint individuals who best satisfy the eligibility criteria and display the following attributes to the highest degree.
Successful candidates will have attained:
[a] A high level of understanding of the principles of law and jurisprudence.
[b] A comprehensive knowledge of the rules of evidence and of court practice and procedure.
[a] 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; and
• consider competing arguments and reason logically to a balanced conclusion.
[b] 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.
[c] 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.
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.
[e] 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.
[c] 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.
[d] 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.
[e] 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.
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.
4.1 Applications are welcome from all those who satisfy the published eligibility requirements.
4.2 All applications and supporting information will be treated as confidential.
4.3 Selected applicants will be invited to an interview.
4.4 Applications will normally be subject to written consultation only.
4.5 Persons to be consulted (referees) will include the Justices of the Court of Appeal, Justices of the Supreme Court, the Bar Association, and persons nominated by the applicant and any stakeholder in the administration of justice in the jurisdiction where the person sits or practices.
4.6 No single referee’s view of an applicant is decisive.
4.7 The Prime Minister will attach no weight to unparticularized allegations of misconduct. He will consider any specific allegations of misconduct in their full context, including the views of the applicant concerned. If a specific allegation of misconduct is made, the Prime Minister will seek the referee’s consent to send details of the allegation to the applicant, to enable him to comment on the allegation.
If consent is not given to reveal details of any allegations of misconduct to the applicant concerned, the allegation will be disregarded.
4.8 This applies only to specific allegations of misconduct; it does not apply to more general reservations expressed about an individual’s professional abilities and qualities. For practical purposes, ‘misconduct’ refers to conduct which, if the allegations were substantiated, would be regarded by a professional association as an infringement of the relevant principles of professional conduct; and/or might, prima facie, show cause for disciplinary proceedings to be initiated, where the person concerned is a holder of a relevant judicial or legal office.
4.9 In the event of an appointment, the candidate would be expected to take up the appointment as soon as possible, subject to a reasonable period being allowed for disengagement from existing obligations.
4.10 The candidate acknowledges that he or she is fully aware that Belize intends to undergo reform and restructuring in the judiciary and that the role of Chief Justice may also be restructured to allow it to administer not only the Supreme Court but also the Court of Appeal.
5.1 Copies of the Application Form for appointment as Chief Justice can be obtained from the Secretary to the Office of the Prime Minister and from the court’s website: www.belizejudiciary.org
5.2 Your signed application form may be hand delivered to the Office of the Prime Minister, or sent by the post, courier, or scanned and emailed, provided that it gets to the Secretary to the Office of the Prime Minister by the deadline date. If you send your application by post, you should allow enough time for delivery before the deadline identified above.
5.3 Applicants will receive a receipt acknowledgment via email once their application is received by the Secretary to the Office of the Prime Minister on receipt of the application. However, only suitably qualified applicants will receive a further notification indicating whether they have or have not been shortlisted for interview.
5.4 Your application should be typewritten or completed clearly in black or blue ink, with any additional information attached to the back of the completed form. Please ensure that you sign and date the form.
5.5 An unsigned application form will not be accepted.
5.6 Please indicate clearly whether you prefer correspondence about your application to be sent to your home or business address. Please notify the Secretary to the Office
of the Prime Minister of any changes to the information supplied under this heading.
5.7 You are invited to provide the names and professional addresses of up to three members of the judiciary and/or the legal profession whom you consider will be able to comment upon your qualities and experience. The Office of the Prime Minister will provide you with the referee form and guide which you will send to the persons named on the application form as referees. The consultation process is to enable the Prime Minister to have the widest possible views on applicants. Only referee forms received directly from the referee will be considered.
5.8 It is not necessary or appropriate for applicants to approach those whom they name, as what is sought is not a reference but information to enable an assessment to be made of their suitability for appointment. Likewise, it is unnecessary and inappropriate for referees to canvass support for particular applicants.
5.9 You may withdraw your application for the position of Chief Justice at any time by writing to the Secretary to the Office of the Prime Minister.
5.10 Applicants should be aware that any offer of appointment will be made subject to the satisfactory outcome of a medical examination, including but not limited to a request for a psychometric test. If you are aware of any health matter which might adversely affect your performance in judicial office, it would be helpful if this could
be mentioned at the outset. The applicant acknowledges that he or she may be requested from time to time to undergo a medical examination and to undergo a psychometric test annually or as deemed necessary by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission.
5.11 All communications and enquiries in relation to your application should be forwarded to the Secretary to the Office of the Prime Minister at the following address:
Please note that written communications should be submitted under confidential cover and hand delivered or sent by post, courier or email. If you send your application by post, you should allow enough time for delivery before the deadline identified above.
The following is a summary of the basic terms of reference of service. Fuller details, including the conditions of appointment, will be supplied to candidates who are offered appointment.
The Chief Justice shall agree and undertake to perform the duties of Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Belize, subject to such legal expansion of duties and responsibilities as may from time to time be enacted, and shall act diligently and faithfully in all respects in accordance with the Belize Constitution, Chapter 4 of the Substantive Laws
of Belize. The Chief Justice shall agree to partake in any reforms and restructuring of the judiciary along with the Office of the Attorney General.
The appointment is made pursuant to section 97 of the Belize Constitution, Chapter 4 of the Substantive Laws of Belize, Revised Edition 2011.
A person appointed as Chief Justice holds office until he attains the age of sixty-five years, provided that the Governor-General (acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister given after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition) may appoint or permit the Chief Justice to continue in his office until, in either case, such person has attained any later age not exceeding seventy-five years.
Notwithstanding that he has attained the age at which he is required to vacate his office, a person holding the office of Chief Justice may continue in office for so long after attaining that age as may be necessary to enable him to deliver judgment or to do any other thing in relation to proceedings that were commenced before him before he attained that age.
In consideration for the service of Chief Justice, the Government shall, for the duration of his tenure:
[a] pay an annual salary (tax free) in monthly instalments, in the sum agreed between the Parties upon appointment;
[b] provide for an allowance for the Chief Justice to rent a fully furnished home of his or her choice;
[c] provide the Chief Justice with a motor vehicle with fuel and a driver;
[c] provide for use of the Chief Justice a mobile phone;
[e] pay to or on behalf of the Chief Justice, all telephone, electricity and water expenses incurred in his use or a utilities allowance in lieu; and
[f] pay to the Chief Justice an entertainment allowance.
The Government shall pay to the Chief Justice, upon the expiration of each one (1) year of his tenure, a tax-free gratuity equal to twenty percent (20%) of the total basic salary paid over the one (1) year period. Should the Government of Belize implement a pension scheme for the judiciary during the tenure of the Chief Justice, it understood that the payment of the gratuity shall cease.
The duties, responsibilities and powers of the Chief Justice shall be as set forth in the Belize Constitution and Laws of Belize and as may be expanded by any amendments thereto or through the enactment of any law.