, 2002, a fire at the Paslow Building on North Front Street in Belize City completely gutted the Magistrate's Courts, housed on the second floor of that building.The Fire Department estimates that the fire commenced at around 11:00 a.m.The Fire Department is, at this time, unable to say what was the cause of the fire.
The Extent of the Damage - The fire has completely destroyed the six Magistrate's Courts and related offices, including the Municipal Court and the Revenue Court housed on the first floor.All furniture, equipment, books and records at the Magistrate's Courts have been destroyed in the fire. The Magistracy is currently compiling an estimate of the value of the loss.
Title Deeds - All title deeds at the Magistrate's Courts in Belize City as security for bailed persons were stored in a safe.It appears that the safe is intact but this will need to be verified.
Criminal Case Files - All physical criminal case files "closed and pending" at the Courts have been destroyed.However, the relevant information in relation to criminal cases were stored in electronic format and backed up. The back-up system, along with police case files, will make it possible to reconstruct criminal case files. The Magistracy will immediately commence work along with the police prosecution department to reconstruct all criminal case files in the coming days.Because the notes of evidence in relation to partly heard criminal cases have been destroyed, this means that those criminal cases that were underway will have to be recommenced afresh.
Civil Case Files - All physical civil case files "closed and pending" at the Courts have been destroyed. Information in relation to civil cases was not stored in electronic format. Consequently,the Magistracy will not be able to reconstruct these case files.Persons who have commenced lawsuits before the Magistrate's Courts will have to re-institute their suits before the Magistrate's Court.
Appeals Pending from the Magistrate's Court to the Supreme Court - Attempts will be made to reconstruct cases on appeal from the Magistrate's Court to the Supreme Court.
Cases for this Week - ALL PERSONS WHO HAVE CASES BEFORE THE MAGISTRATE'S COURT THIS WEEK ARE REQUIRED TO REPORT TO THE EASTERN DIVISION POLICE STATION WHERE THEIR CASES WILL BE DEALT WITH BEFORE THE RESPECTIVE MAGISTRATES.
Weekly Notice in the Media for Cases - The Magistracy will be publishing a weekly list of cases for the coming week in order to keep persons updated on pending cases. These published lists of cases will continue until the schedule of cases is normalized.
New Venue for Magistrates Courts - All attempts will be made to establish a temporary Magistrate's Court as soon as possible.
Hotline - A hotline has been established in order to enable inquiries to be answered.The number is 227-6370.