Tag Archives: Barbados Bar Association

A Moribund Entity that is the Barbados Bar Association

Barry Gale QC, President of the BA

Barry Gale QC, President of the BA

When Andrew Pilgrim took up the post of President of the Barbados Bar Association, BU was very optimistic that in tandem with newly appointed CJ Gibson, some efficiency would have been achieved in our court system. We were wrong. To compound the perception that the Bar is a moribund entity it has been three months since Barry Gale QC took the baton from Pilgrim and the public is none the wiser about progress made by the Bar during his tenure.

Several reasons are listed on the Barbados Bar Association website why it was established under the Barbados Bar Association Act of 1940. Of the 27 reasons given a few should be of interest to Barbadians if only because they are laudable or should that be laughable:

Related Link: Non Contentious Fees (The Legal Profession Act Cap. 370A)

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Barbados Bar Association Must Be Dissolved

Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite

Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite

A BU blog Compensation Fund: Another Screw-up By the Barbados Bar Association highlighted another in a list of indiscretions by the Barbados Bar Association (BA). The big regret is that the traditional media refuses to honour its obligation to expose this club to the glare of the public. For years the who is who in the legal fraternity shuffle in and out of the President’s position all for the glory of achieving silk or the token of notoriety it offers. BU relishes the opportunity to ask Andrew Pilgrim QC what he accomplished during his tenure as BA president.

What is really irksome has been the lack of transparency and disclosure regarding lawyers who have had complaints lodged against them by the public. BU’s Plantation Deeds among many come to mind.  It is obvious that the BA as a self regulating body is woefully inadequate – by its track record –  to deal with the mounting concerns of the public regarding those bad apples in the legal barrel. Surely the time has come, if we want to be solution oriented, to change the governance structure as it relates to the legal profession. The Disciplinary Committee of the BA has done nothing to assuage the concerns of the public. The BA as represented in the Act has failed to regulate on a simple matter like who qualifies to be issued practicing certificates and what fee to receive from lawyers.

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Vernon Smith QC Suggests Barbados Bar Association Illegally Charging VAT on Member Subscriptions

Vernon Smith QC

Vernon Smith QC

BU read the Barbados Today article with  interest which outlined Vernon Smith QC reaction to being characterised a delinquent Barbados Bar Association (BA) member. The BU family is reminded of the list which was circulated by the BA and posted to BU in a blog by Caswell Franklyn – Defaulting Lawyers.

BU has posited a view that the Legal Profession Act contravenes the Constitution of Barbados concerning lawyers who opt not to pay BA fees and is therefore a nullity ab initio. Vernon Smith’s view has also been discussed.  Now that he has come public in his defense it provides the opportunity for the BU family to explore the matter further.

Vernon Smith is quoted in the article as follows:

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Tales From The Courts XII – Barbados Bar Membership Revisited – Registrar and Sir David Simmons, Wilfred Abrahams Exposed

Update: The Nation newspaper has issued a public apology to Sir David Seale and Caswell Franklyn in today’s  edition. It turns out that it was our own Caswell who penned the Guest Column and NOT Sir David

In a recent blog BU investigated the issue of attorneys who opt not to be members of the Barbados Bar Association (“BA”) on the basis that the Legal Profession Act contravenes the Constitution of Barbados and is, as a result, a nullity ab initio.

The almost unanimous opinions expressed by BU’s legal eagles was that the Legal Profession Act would be found in law to be a nullity ab initio.

BU has received a letter from attorney-at-law Wilfred A. Abrahams to the President of the Barbados Bar Association dated April 12, 2003 in which he gives notice that the attorneys of the chambers of which he is head, Aegis Chambers, intend to object to appearing in court with any attorney who has not submitted themselves to the Legal Profession Act and, inter alia, accusing these dissenting attorneys of committing an illegal act by practicing law – See Letter sent by Abrahams to the Bar – part 1 and Part 2

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Non Membership in the Barbados Bar Association Does Not Preclude a Lawyer’s Right to Practice Law

Marston Gibson, Chief Justice (l) Andrew Pilgrim, President of Barbados Bar Association

Marston Gibson, Chief Justice (l) Andrew Pilgrim, President of Barbados Bar Association

BU has been provided with a copy of the letter dated April 4, 2013 by which the Chief Justice finally advised the new Queens Counsel that he had received the Letters Patent that the GG had executed and sent to the CJ some weeks previously, instructing that they be delivered. The GG had also officially informed the new Queens Counsel himself of their appointment, from which time they had the right to put the letters QC after their names. Do not expect Chief Justice Gibson to offer an explanation for the delay.

BU has also been provided with a legal opinion on the matter of mandatory membership of the Barbados Bar Association, on which it has been argued, in essence, that there is a requirement that attorneys who are certified to practice law in Barbados must also be members of the Barbados Bar Association. BU’s legal opinion states that, as such an Act breaches the Constitution, it is a nullity ab initio, as indeed is any law which breaches the Constitution. Otherwise, the Constitution, which requires a two third majority of the House to change it, would be held hostage to the much lower standard of a simple act of parliament, which requires merely a majority. This would compromise the rights of Bajans and infringe their liberties. Pursued, it could also potentially lead away from democracy to dictatorship.

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Defaulting Lawyers

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Recently, I heard that the Bar association had published a list of attorneys-at-law who did not pay their dues to the association, as required by law. At first, I was a bit sceptical but all doubts have been removed when I saw a story in the Saturday Sun of April 6, 2013 to that effect.

Surprisingly, the list appeared in my Inbox: it contained the names of 75 lawyers. The whole affair piqued my interest, so I set about to find out the reason for the omission of so many lawyers. The reasons ranged from: conscientious objection, no longer practising, inadvertence to plain just being cheap. I have examined the case for the conscientious objectors, and quite frankly, I believe that by not paying their dues, they have shown utter disrespect for the law that they are sworn to uphold.

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Bar Association President Andrew Pilgrim Serving Two Masters

Andrew Pilgrim, President of the Barbados Bar Association

… we decided to approach Andrew Pilgrim, well known dramatist and President of the Bar Association for his view…

Bajan Reporter

The above was extracted from an article posted by Ian Bourne on his websitePresident of the Barbados Bar Association sees special Unit for Raul Garcia as Tax Inefficient – Let the former Convict live and work here!. What snagged the attention of BU was not the substantive issue highlighted by the article but the way Andrew Pilgrim was introduced. Whether Bourne realized, it he reminded BU of a growing concern we have about Andrew Pilgrim and his role as President of the Bar Association. To add to the rub BU got sight of a document which features Pilgrim in an upcoming TV-series. 

BU is fully supportive of the Arts and our concern should not be seen as being against The Soap Opera Project. We wish the Caribbean Film Festival all the success. BU has been  an advocate for this government to get more aggressive in its effort to support the cultural and creative sector. BU continues to monitor the passage of the Cultural Industries Bill and will not attempt to muddy the waters at this stage although we remain agitated at the agendas being played out.

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Chief Justice Marston Gibson Slams Barbados Bar Association President, Andrew Pilgrim

Marston Gibson, Chief Justice (l) Andrew Pilgrim, President of Barbados Bar Association

In an email to Andrew Pilgrim, president of the Barbados Bar Association, Chief Justice Marston Gibson has slammed the BBA, thereby raising many points that BU has been promoting about the Justice System.

The Chief’s email to Mr Pilgrim is posted to the members section of the BBA website and requires that it be accessed by passwords available to BBA members only. However, BU has been able to obtain a copy and states that it posts this as a matter of public interest!

This comes at a time when BU understands that the Registrar has been told that she may not sit as a judge to replace judges on leave (in this case, Madam Justice Kentish) and that her job is to stay in the Registry and sort out the mess. Instead, Madam Justice Kentish has been replaced during her six month leave by the Chief Magistrate.

Here is what the Chief has had to say to Mr Pilgrim and the BBA.

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Barbados Society Built On Law And Order – Collusion Of Silence Cloaks The Appointment of Chief Justice Of Barbados

Marston Gibson, Chief Justice of Barbados Designate

Marston Gibson, Chief Justice of Barbados Designate

If there is one thing the government of Barbados must plead guilty, it is the procrastination and vacillation which has affected their ability to appoint a Chief Justice of Barbados. The denial given to Sir David which forced him into an early retirement would have signalled to the public the government had a plan  to attack the many issues which are afflicting our Judicature.

If there is one attribute which recommends Barbados it is the fact our country is still regarded as an orderly society. The strength of our democracy, law and order; its political and social stability has become a symbiosis. At the epicentre of the administration of justice sits the Chief Justice. Sir David was sent hurrying on pre-retirement leave on the 21 Jan 2010, more that a year ago. Is it conceivable to think that any company wishing to be successful would want to have an entrenched appointee at the top? It has nothing to do with the vacuous and spurious excuses being offered to the effect Justice Sherman Moore is competent.

Besides the ugly and embarrassing situation which must be tarnishing the reputation and credibility of our court system has been the silence of those who should be most vociferous given the tardy appointment of a permanent Chief Justice. Recently appointed President of the Barbados Bar Association Andrew Pilgrim has been uncharacteristically silent. The Barbados Labour Party Opposition who registered disagreement when Sir David was refused the extension, also opposed the amendment of the Judicature of the Supreme Court Act, which many believed cleared the way for Marston Gibson to take up the post, has been passive on the issue. The most resounding silence has been the local media who although willing to do a public relations job on Marston Gibson, felt hat and all, has shown a reluctance to disseminate the bigger issues created by his non appointment.

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Barbadians Are Listening Very Carefully To What You Say Chief Justice Marston Gibson

Marston Gibson, Chief Justice of Barbados Designate

Marston Gibson, Chief Justice of Barbados Designate

The appointment of Chief Justice (CJ) Marston Gibson has generated heated debate in some quarters. Today President of the Barbados Bar Association Andrew Pilgrim criticized the current system which which sees the Prime Minister appointing judges. It seems he was peeved about the reason which Gibson offered for accepting the appointment in the face of the public furore directed at his appointment. Gibson indicated it was a promise he made to late Prime Minister Thompson which he felt obligated to honour. Pilgrim’s view differs with his colleague Ralph Thorne who believes the quality of decisions by a Prime Minister will be judged by the electorate. Therefore a Prime Minister has a vested interest in appointing quality judges to the bench. It should be noted based on a little research, all the sitting judges were appointed by Prime Minister Owen Arthur.

In the weekend news just passed there was the obligatory public relations spread which sought to give the public an insight into what to expect from the incoming CJ. BU would have asked the harder questions but such is the lay of the land. In the Public Relations job facilitated by Tony Best of the Nation Gibson articulated changes he plans to implement when he assumes office. By the way did BU miss it or was the position officially announced by government? His interview generated mild comment in some quarters while others suggested CJ Gibson has not stated anything that has not already made it into the public domain and in some instances are in the process of being implemented.

The following is an extract from Sir David Simmon’s speech at the opening of the Special Sitting of the Supreme Court to mark the commencement of the legal year 2009-2010 at the new Judicial Building. One of the advantages the incoming CJ will have is that he will be under the public microscope like no other CJ who preceded him. He will therefore have to be very wary when he makes public statements. A read of Sir David’s speech touches many of the suggestions proffered by Gibson in the weekend press, you decide.

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