The Registrar of the Supreme Court of Bermuda: increasingly judicial?

The new Registrar of the Supreme Court of Bermuda (Ms. Shade Subair Williams) has handed down a written Ruling, dated 9 December 2016, in the case of Michael Paulo v Damon Simmons [2016] SC (Bda) 109 Civ .

By her Ruling, the Registrar refused an application by the Defendant to set aside a $300,000 judgment that had been entered against him in default of appearance.

The Ruling is fairly unexceptional so far as the facts and legal principles are concerned (both of which seemed to get in the way of the hapless Defendant’s chances of success).

The most interesting feature of the Ruling, however, is the fact that the application was heard and determined by the Registrar, and not by a Supreme Court judge.

The parties both appear to have accepted that the Registrar had jurisdiction to determine the application, but, for the avoidance of doubt, the Registrar expressly considered the scope of her own jurisdiction under the Rules of the Supreme Court (including under Orders 1, 13, and 32), and concluded that she did have jurisdiction.

It will be interesting to see, going forwards, if this Ruling is intended to indicate a willingness and desire on the part of the Registrar to assume an increasingly judicial role, as a matter of Court practice (bearing in mind that her functions also include a large number of administrative and management tasks).

It will also be interesting to see if the Supreme Court and the Registry are provided with additional resources and administrative support, enabling the Registrar to allocate more of her time to judicial rather than administrative activity.

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