Recognition of the benefits of formal judicial education came late to the common law world. Indeed, as late as the beginning of the 1980s, one of the most distinguished English judges of the twentieth century, brushed off an early English proposal for judicial training with the dismissive comment that “[t]he self-informed judge is a product of the inquisitorial and not the adversary system”. For in the adversary system, according to conventional wisdom, judges were born, not made, seen to be, as one regional commentator observed, “a product of nature rather than nurture”.
But fortunately, in this, as in so much else, times have changed. It is now generally accepted throughout the Commonwealth that some form of judicial education, both at the outset of a judge’s tenure and as an ongoing activity, is an essential component of judicial competence and efficiency in an increasingly complex environment. While, hopefully, all judges still bring to their roles special qualities of temperament and intuition, experience has shown that there are many judicial techniques that can be taught and, perhaps more importantly, learned. Accepted areas of training, such as judgment writing, the delivery of effective oral judgments, case management and the like, have now been helpfully supplemented by other areas as diverse as the development of listening skills, the use of information technology and the avoidance of judicial arrogance.
It is against the background of these not so new realities that I welcome the establishment of the Judicial Education Institute of Jamaica. Happily, it is launched at a time when there are many models throughout the Commonwealth to which we can turn for guidance and assistance when necessary. In particular, I hope that we will find it possible to forge close links with our partners at the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute and our now well-established counterparts in our part of the world.