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Exhibition celebrates 400 years of justice

Court of public opinion: the Deputy Governor, Ginny Ferson, left, Mayor of St George’s, Quinell Francis, and Chief Justice Ian Kawaley view the new travelling exhibit, which highlights four centuries of continuous court services (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The island’s greatest legal minds gathered at the World Heritage Centre in St George last night for the opening of an exhibition celebrating 400 years of continuous court services in Bermuda.

The Bermuda’s Courts exhibition, which will travel from St George’s to Hamilton and then to Dockyard, is billed as an “opportunity to reflect on the depths of our legal roots and to learn lessons from the past”.

Chief Justice Ian Kawaley acknowledged those who had helped bring the exhibition together including retired Puisne Judge Norma Wade Miller who came up with the concept. Others included the government communications department, the Bermuda National Library and the Department of Archives.

Speaking of the exhibition, Mr Justice Kawaley said: “The main function of celebrating this anniversary is to reflect on the history of the courts in Bermuda — where we have come from, what we used to be like and to perhaps assist ourselves to forge a new identity for the present and the future that builds on the experience and reflections of the past.”

The Acting Governor, Ginny Ferson, spoke of how the exhibit combines two important features of justice — the evolution of justice and the accessibility of justice.

She said: “I think that the law is a living creature it adapts as our societal norms adapt.

“Today of course we are still wrestling with some issues to do with family units and human rights which I like to think that ten years or so in the future we will look back on and wonder why we did find it so strange. I won’t go any further on that.

“But accessibility of justice — there is at its core the ease of access for individuals for legal representation. I am thinking more generally about legal accessibility of justice and I think that is what this exhibit does — it shows the general public what is meant by justice, what is meant by legislation and what is meant by court procedures and how things have developed over the years. I think this is very important for both of those things.”

The Mayor of St George, Quinell Francis, added: “This year the Bermuda courts are celebrating 400 years of unbroken court services and it is only fitting that St George’s was selected as the venue for the initial unveiling of the travelling exhibition.”