Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday staved off a possible showdown in the courts with the Jamaican Bar Association as he advised Governor General Sir Patrick Allen to appoint Justice Bryan Sykes as Jamaica's chief justice.
Sources close to the leadership of the Bar Association had indicated late last week that they were prepared to go to the courts to seek a determination on the legal grounds on which Holness stood.
But following a recent meeting, in which Holness reportedly underscored his commitment to the independence of the judiciary and hinted that Sykes would be appointed shortly, the legal challenge was put on hold.
Yesterday, faced with a tsunami of public opinion opposed to his decision to appoint an acting chief justice where a clear vacancy existed, Holness caved in, almost one month after he hinted that Sykes had been put on probation.
In announcing the decision yesterday, the Office of the Prime Minister gave no explanation for the decision, but Professor Trevor Munroe, head of the anti-corruption group National Integrity Action, welcomed the move.
"Prime Minister Holness has done the right thing, somewhat belatedly, responding to public opinion and professional views as every prime minister should," said Munroe.
"This is what democracy means," added Munroe, who last week warned that the delay in fully appointing Sykes as chief justice could have implications for the hard-won gains in the Corruption Perception Index of 2017.
The index saw Jamaica climb 15 places from number 83 of 176 countries in 2016 to 68 of 180 countries in 2017.