Letter from the Registrar of the Supreme Court sent to the Bar Association (BA) regarding a change to the system of processing probate applications – Click Image
The Registrar opines that in light of the decision in CV 427/2012 entitled Edmund King & Cecil Smith v Marva Clarke the system of processing probate applications is to be changed and that counsel dealing with such applications must now pay for the advertising of the probate application and provide proof of such application, before the Registry will accept the filing of the application.
Justice Saunders of the CCJ opined recently that Barbados judges were not scheduling their time properly.
For some years now BU has been highlighting the issue of the almost terminal state of our justice system. We have been highlighting, among other things, the backlog of cases both before the High Court and the Court of Appeal, the complete inefficiency of the Registry with its loss of files and procrastination, the mess that is the Bar Association and the clear conflict between Bar Association enforced membership and the Constitution; but most importantly, we have been highlighting the quality of our judges, both at High Court and Appeal levels.
A very short while ago, attorneys-at-law from Barbados raised the issue of delays in both getting matters heard and in receiving the judgements on those matters with CCJ Justice Saunders at one open forum. Justice Saunders opined that it was because Barbados judges were not scheduling their time properly. Meanwhile, in another forum, CCJ President Sir Denis Byron advised that appeals to the CCJ from Barbados had risen by 350%.
Having read some of the CCJ decisions in right of Barbados, we have to say that Justice Saunders was being diplomatic, for these judgements do not censure delay alone, but the lack of quality of the judgements themselves, judgements that in any other jurisdiction would lead either to the judge being asked to resign or to his/her dismissal.
Where is justice in the Barbados Courts?
“Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied” – British politician William Gladstone
A dip into decisions of the Barbados Court of Appeal by BU legal eagles has provided the opportunity to critique the case James Livingstone Eastmond v. Rayside Concrete Works Limited [Unreported] C.A. B’dos Civil Appeal No 18 of 2003. The decision was handed down on 2012-11-08 by a panel comprised of Williams CJ (ag) Mason, Burgess JJA. The decision was written by Peter Williams JA.
The case is one involving dismissal and severance payment. This is not some high-flown case with wealthy and high-profile litigants, but one which demonstrates the perpetual failure of our judiciary to deliver justice to an ordinary Bajan.
The plaintiff, James Eastmond, had worked for Rayside Concrete Works for 15 years and he had been dismissed over 20 years before the decision of the Court of Appeal was handed down. A twenty year search for justice. The case was in the system (either before the Severance Payments Tribunal or the High Court) for about 11 years, before coming to the Court of Appeal.
Chief Justice Marston Gibson
Original blog posted 2.43AM 15/08/13 – Updated 6.44PM 15/08/13
Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson is reported in the Nation as having stated that he will shortly start to throw out old cases. It is now two years since Sir Marston, amid much controversy, took over the role of Chief Justice of Barbados, and delivered promises of what he would do to revive the justice system. To date, all we have had from him are press photos of him attending various functions and a lot of non-specific pronouncements of what he intends to do which, like most political manifestos, remain un-fulfilled, largely because he seems to operate with a ‘vote-grabbing’ mindset.
BU has a few questions for the Chief Justice that we urge media (AirBourne?) to ask. Of course, BU’s readers will realise that these questions are largely (but not solely) rhetorical.
Q: How many cases are there before the High Court on which judgements are awaited for a period of time in excess of six months?
Q: How many old cases are there that have been settled out of court and on which no certificates of satisfaction have been filed by the counsel whose duty it was to so file them AND/OR having been filed, not had those filings reflected by the Registry (READ lost by the Registry)?
Q: How many old cases have had counsel on both sides write repeatedly to the Registrar and the Chief Justice over a period of years asking that they be set down for hearing? AND how many responses/hearings has this invoked?
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)
For some years now, BU has been seeking the removal of the Registrar, Marva Clarke. Now, she is gone.
We are told that it was voluntary and that she was not asked to resign, but that she did so anyway, since it had been made clear to her that, under Gibson CJ, she would never be promoted to the Bench. Which, if you think about it, is precisely the same thing.
Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart
BU has come into possession of a list of outstanding decisions before the Barbados courts as at November 2012. It is a daunting list that in any other jurisdiction other than Barbados, would mandate that the delinquent judges be censored and their resignations demanded forthwith.
BU makes one caveat on behalf of Mr Justice Randall Worrell who is in an unenviable position not of his making. Former Chief Justice David Simmons invited Justice Worrell – a highly successful criminal counsel – on to the bench specifically to try criminal matters and therefore speed up the process of the courts, lessen remand periods etc. Once installed on the Bench, however, the Registrar persisted in scheduling civil matters, some of them extremely complex, before Justice Worrell. While at the same time, ensuring that he could not do justice to the civil matters by constantly involving him in assizes for which he had been brought on to the bench in the first place. Justice Worrell must now find the time to write his decisions in civil matters, as well as to complete part-heard matters that have commenced hearing before him, as mandated by the Administration of Justice Act Cap 109b of our laws. This is the main reason that BU has not gone after Justice Worrell for delinquency. However in the final analysis, Justice Worrell, whatever excuses can be posited on his behalf will ultimately find himself joined in actions under the Constitution brought by litigants against the Attorney General for breach of the constitutional rights through delay. BU is well aware that there are a number of such actions for delay…but predictably these actions for delay are themselves egregiously delayed by the incompetence and corruption of the Registrar and the Registry.
Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart, responsible for the Civil Service
BU has come across seemingly incontrovertible evidence that warrants both of your immediate investigation. The evidence involves Mr Justice Olson Alleyne. Evidence suggests that Mr Justice Alleyne continues to practice law under the business name of “Olson Alleyne Legal”, despite his elevation to the Bench and has indulged in the practice of law during his tenure on the Bench, even up to the present day. We are satisfied that as little as 14 days ago, counsel received correspondence from Olson Alleyne Legal signed by another lawyer on behalf of Mr Olson Alleyne. If proved, this constitutes gross and dismissible misconduct and we refer you to section 84 of the Constitution, to be easily found online.
This is a matter of the gravest possible national importance. It requires investigation and explanation forthwith. BU, out of fairness and to permit you to conduct an immediate investigation, will refrain for the present from publishing the evidence. You are encouraged to contact us should you wish to avail yourself of this evidence and we will make arrangements to have it delivered to you. We await your expeditious response. It would be a great mistake to test our resolve on this one.
If there is no interest shown in this matter by officialdom we will interpret this to mean you have no problem with BU pursuing this matter in the public space of the Internet.
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.