Michael Weeks, Minister of Social Development & Sports

In follow up to the Supreme Court ruling that Magistrates must consider appointing legal representatives to protect the rights of children who appear in court, a Litigation Guardian Council will be set up by the Bermuda Government.

The announcement was made in the House of Assembly on Friday, by Minister of Social Development and Sports, Michael Weeks, who said the council will provide regulatory oversight of the recruitment, management and administration of litigation guardians in Bermuda.

The court ruling in June by Puisne Judge Stephen Hellman, ruled that the Children’s Act requires the Family Court to consider the appointment of a “litigation guardian” for children.

Mr Weeks said policy development has been underway for some time as a result of the PLP’s Throne Speech pledge last September.

Following consultation with the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service in the UK, the Ministry has come up with a framework for policy moving forward. Drafting instructions have already been issued to the Attorney General’s Chambers.

On the recent Supreme Court ruling, the Minister said: “It would be wrong in principle for this Court to use its inherent jurisdiction to authorize statutory expenditure where the Legislature has not expressly done so.”

A litigation guardian was recently appointed by the Family Court to provide an objective review of the  circumstances related to a family matter in the best interest of the child concerned.