CHIEF JUSTICE HON. BERNARD SIK YUEN

In its long list of Honorees, it is the first time that ALIF is inscribing a member of the Judiciary. Simply because he is different. He is all smiles at functions. He speaks his mind. He speaks of his vision. He had over half an hour for me in an office where he said he was a squatting. If you doubt my words, go to China Town street market and you will meet his Lordship. Greet him and he will reply as if he has known you for ages. Born in 1947, Bernard Sik Yuen completes his secondary education at St Joseph College and graduates in law at Leeds University; he then obtains a scholarship for PhD in Paris 11, joins the Judiciary, is appointed judge in 1989 and becomes CJ in 2007, the last in a line of distinguished appointments he has held. This is a remarkable occasion to celebrate the appointment of a remarkable man who has for decades been one of the leading figures of the legal world and whose influence, as an unelected individual vested with power, has extended deep into the great issues of the day affecting the people of this country.
My Lord, you are heading the Supreme Court of our country when the press is talking of Justice a deux vitesses and the best justice money can buy. Quid faciant leges, ubi sola pecunia regnat? On the other hand, globalization is impacting on the image of the judiciary the world over. One politician chooses symbolically the esplanade in front of the supreme court to hold his meetings. That is why, of all the buildings in Port Louis, the Supreme Court is among the most sensitive to the weather outside.
The most valuable asset of any profession is its collective reputation and the judiciary is no exception. There is a serious danger that news flash from overseas may add up to cause a decline in respect and an increase in the cynicism of the public. “To distrust the judiciary,” said Honoré de Balzac, “marks the beginning of the end of society.” In Britain, judges are one of the most respected groups. But in America they tend to be held in low esteem, particularly when we learn of such episodes as:
A $54m lawsuit over a pair of pinstriped trousers that went missing from a Washington, DC, cleaners was thrown out by a judge this week.
A judge ordered to strip-search and jail 11 defendants for arriving late.
My Lord, you are assuming a duty whose responsibility may be trying. But it is also a responsibility that is exalting and is a guarantee for stability and harmony of our society. Our citizens trust their justice. They place their hope on you. The traditions you have inherited and your personal commitments must satisfy the expectations of our country. The survival of our democracy depends upon the existence of a free and independent judiciary under your leadership.
People who have been fortunate to work with you and to know you well recall the principles and ideals that guide you and stand this country well: you are a man of courage and compassion, of humanity and justice. You are “One of the best CJs we have had”, according to solicitor Pazany Rengasamy. You are “A gentleman”, according to Shakeel Mohamed, MNA and barrister. Dick Ng Sui Wah adds: “The administration of justice will be rendered more efficient.”
You are like the ideal judge of Isaiah chapter 11, verses 3 -5: “He will not judge by appearances, nor decide by hearsay; but he will act with justice to the poor and decide with fairness for the meek of the land”. And whatever the pressures you have been under, your humanity and courtesy have never wavered. Nor has your energy.
You are in tune with our compatriots who want a humane justice as was your stand when the conflict of Campement Owners versus the State was brought to you, a justice that is responsible and which gives all its importance to the principle that one is innocent until proven guilty. Summum jus, summa injuria. Justice Extreme justice est extreme Injustice
Our people want an expedient justice and a stop to long period of remand along the principle that justice delayed is justice denied. They want security against all forms of violence and organised crimes. Criminal behaviour would not change if the sanctions are not executed with severity. The best laws of the world are useless if not well administered. In this exercise, the judiciary occupies a preponderant role. The jurisprudence, the quality of the men and women of your institution, the sum total of their knowledge, their competence, make of your institution recognised and respected. The importance of what judges do and the part their decisions plays in the life of the nation means that those decisions cannot be immune from robust public debate – and My Lord, I know you would not disagree.
You are a great Lord Chief Justice – and you have been a great judge.
I understand you will attain normal retiring age soon. Take heart. Judges don’t age though they deal with law which is only 3 days younger than humanity. Time decorates them. The nation is in your debt for what you have accomplished and looks forward with great hope for a new dawn. We wish you very well.

The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.
In its long list of Honorees, it is the first time that ALIF is inscribing a member of the Judiciary. Simply because he is different. He is all smiles at functions. He speaks his mind. He speaks of his vision. He had over half an hour for me in an office where he said he was a squatting. If you doubt my words, go to China Town street market and you will meet his Lordship. Greet him and he will reply as if he has known you for ages. Born in 1947, Bernard Sik Yuen completes his secondary education at St Joseph College and graduates in law at Leeds University; he then obtains a scholarship for PhD in Paris 11, joins the Judiciary, is appointed judge in 1989 and becomes CJ in 2007, the last in a line of distinguished appointments he has held. This is a remarkable occasion to celebrate the appointment of a remarkable man who has for decades been one of the leading figures of the legal world and whose influence, as an unelected individual vested with power, has extended deep into the great issues of the day affecting the people of this country.
My Lord, you are heading the Supreme Court of our country when the press is talking of Justice a deux vitesses and the best justice money can buy. Quid faciant leges, ubi sola pecunia regnat? On the other hand, globalization is impacting on the image of the judiciary the world over. One politician chooses symbolically the esplanade in front of the supreme court to hold his meetings. That is why, of all the buildings in Port Louis, the Supreme Court is among the most sensitive to the weather outside.
The most valuable asset of any profession is its collective reputation and the judiciary is no exception. There is a serious danger that news flash from overseas may add up to cause a decline in respect and an increase in the cynicism of the public. “To distrust the judiciary,” said Honoré de Balzac, “marks the beginning of the end of society.” In Britain, judges are one of the most respected groups. But in America they tend to be held in low esteem, particularly when we learn of such episodes as:
A $54m lawsuit over a pair of pinstriped trousers that went missing from a Washington, DC, cleaners was thrown out by a judge this week.
A judge ordered to strip-search and jail 11 defendants for arriving late.
My Lord, you are assuming a duty whose responsibility may be trying. But it is also a responsibility that is exalting and is a guarantee for stability and harmony of our society. Our citizens trust their justice. They place their hope on you. The traditions you have inherited and your personal commitments must satisfy the expectations of our country. The survival of our democracy depends upon the existence of a free and independent judiciary under your leadership.
People who have been fortunate to work with you and to know you well recall the principles and ideals that guide you and stand this country well: you are a man of courage and compassion, of humanity and justice. You are “One of the best CJs we have had”, according to solicitor Pazany Rengasamy. You are “A gentleman”, according to Shakeel Mohamed, MNA and barrister. Dick Ng Sui Wah adds: “The administration of justice will be rendered more efficient.”
You are like the ideal judge of Isaiah chapter 11, verses 3 -5: “He will not judge by appearances, nor decide by hearsay; but he will act with justice to the poor and decide with fairness for the meek of the land”. And whatever the pressures you have been under, your humanity and courtesy have never wavered. Nor has your energy.
You are in tune with our compatriots who want a humane justice as was your stand when the conflict of Campement Owners versus the State was brought to you and the recent landmark judgement of 7 Mauritians condemned for ridiculous 45 years imprisonment, a justice that is responsible and which gives all its importance to the principle that one is innocent until proven guilty. Summum jus, summa injuria. Justice Extreme justice est extreme Injustice
Our people want an expedient justice and a stop to long period of remand along the principle that justice delayed is justice denied. Here comes to mind the 27m back log cases in India which at current rate of proceedings will take 300 years to clear. They want security against all forms of violence and organised crimes. Criminal behaviour would not change if the sanctions are not executed with severity. The best laws of the world are useless if not well administered. In this exercise, the judiciary occupies a preponderant role. The jurisprudence, the quality of the men and women of your institution, and of those you have recently promoted, the sum total of their knowledge, their competence, make of your institution recognised and respected. The importance of what judges do and the part their decisions plays in the life of the nation means that those decisions cannot be immune from robust public debate – and My Lord, I know you would not disagree.
You are a great Lord Chief Justice – and you have been a great judge.
I understand you will attain normal retiring age soon. Take heart. Judges don’t age though they deal with law which is only 3 days younger than humanity. Time decorates them. The nation is in your debt for what you have accomplished and looks forward with great hope for a new dawn. We wish you very well.