The four day workshop held at the Muri Beach Club Hotel in Muri is being conducted by Judge (retired) Tagaloa Enoka Puni and Justice Sir Ronald Young.
The workshop is attended by Cook Islands Justices of the Peace of the High Court. Most of the participants are from Rarotonga with one from Aitutaki.
Puni said the principle of judging was to deliver quality justice and in order to do that, he said, the JPs had to know the procedures involved in the process.
He said they should be able to see, listen and analsye what people were saying and then look at the law that is applicable and apply the law to the facts, before delivering the judgment.
Puni said the two core functions of a judge was to listen to what the dispute was and then make a decision according to the law.
He said normally two parties involved in a dispute would be seeking justice according to their terms.
“In the environment of the justice system, it’s always justice according to law. It’s not what the judges says, it’s what the law says and this is what we are specifically doing this week,” Puni said.
“We are upskilling the judges that have been sitting to look at the way that they have been delivering justice and where there should be some improvement.”
Puni said the ongoing programme for these JPs was also to enable them to be competent, as they were expected to show confidence in what they did.
“People out there are having disputes. It might be disputes between the police and the citizens and they are called criminal disputes. Then there is dispute between people on properties, rights and things like that and that’s generally called civil dispute,” Puni said.
“The environment that these judges work in is an environment where people come in with their disputes and the whole rationale of people coming in here with their disputes is that the judge resolves (those) disputes for them.
“Therefore, for the judiciary to be successful, the people who come with their disputes should be able to understand what the judge or the justices are saying.”
Puni said a major part of the workshop was educating justices to provide logical decisions.
“The essence for a good decision is that you focus on the person that’s going to lose, because the person who wins is not going to appeal you,” he said.
“The important thing then for the judge is the way that they deliver the judgment because when you finish, the person who loses should say ‘well I’m not happy that I lost, but I understand why I lost’.
“The reason why there are appeals is because they don’t understand what the court is saying.”
The conference will end today.