Justice of the Peace (JP) Keith Biles made his last court sitting on Wednesday, having served on the bench since 2008.
Attorney General Peter Judge, making what will be one of his last appearances in the Court, said that when the new Criminal Procedure and Evidence Bill is commenced next month, JPs would have an even more central role, with every case from the smallest to the most significant crimes, beginning its life in this Summary Court. “In this context it is a particular disappointment that we lose your experience now. You will be greatly missed,” said Mr Judge.
JPs are a part of the great tradition of British justice, dating back over 650 years.
Mr Judge said the tradition was built on what he believed to be a fundamental truth: “That local people, who represent and understand their communities, are best able to understand the circumstances of crimes and its impact on the community. Put most simply, they are best able to be just, and to dispense justice.”
He said he had known of Mr Biles who had been described as “a good chap” by the then Chief Justice Christopher Gardner, even before he came to the Falklands. But he had not known of the many other roles he had as well as JP; Speaker of the House, public speaking trainer at the school, member of the CAB and British Legion Boards a member of the choir and much more.
Addressing the bench Mr Judge said: “With so many jobs your worships, I had assumed that your chairman had one of superman’s phone boxes at his disposal for quick changing into one of the very many outfits that go with so many jobs,” and assured that he had, “preserved all the phone boxes in the new Communication Bill.”
On an equally light note Mr Judge said that Mr Biles’ retirement from his JP role would now allow many more hours for, “members of the public to be able to discuss the absence of a cash machine in Stanley - I know it is a subject he enjoys very much.” (Mr Biles was a former manager of Standard Chartered Bank).
“You have performed a vital role, bringing the valuable experience, and some mathematical talent to the justice system, and devoting large amounts of your valuable time to serving this community and the people of the Falkland Islands in this and your many roles.
“On behalf of the legal profession, the government and the people of these Islands, I thank you and wish you a very happy retirement from the Bench.”