Marston Gibson, Chief Justice
Former Chief Justice, Sir David Simmons
Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite recently updated the public that crime is o the rise in the North of the island.
Dale Marshall, MP
Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart, responsible for the Civil Service
It was with more than passing interest that BU read the Nation article of 15 January 2014 entitled SLOW JUDGEMENTS HEAVILY CRITICIZED.
It is somewhat daunting to note that the Nation has only now espoused this cause as the result of cross-party agreement in the House led by former attorney general, Dale Marshall and supported by the PM and the present attorney general. This, after all, is an issue that BU – Tales from the Courts – has been resolute in airing for some years now and it appears that it is only now that a leading economist has publicly pointed out the obvious, that the demise of the justice system is almost completely responsible for the fall off and withdrawal of off-shore and foreign investment, that it now has been raised. Although, to be fair, last year in Toronto, the PM did serve notice that the justice system and courts had to be sorted out. But still his warning appears to have fallen in deaf ears and he himself has not done anything since.
When mention is made of layoffs in the public sector no thought is ever given to extending the treatment to our referred Judges. BU has been relentless in the effort to expose the inefficiency of the Judiciary – see Tales from the Courts. Chief Justice Marston Gibson of whom much was expected has resigned himself to communicating about the thousands of cases in backlog which has our courts in gridlock.
There is the saying that if there is to be a different result one cannot continue to do the same thing. The news which appears in today’s Trinidad Newsday newspaper seems relevant to Barbados. These are tough times for all citizens as we grapple with austere conditions, it is time for our Judges to suck it up.
The recommendation coming from a Chief Justice and a sitting Judge in Trinidad is to “WITHHOLD the pay of tardy judges as a penalty for failing to deliver judgments within six months of the conclusion of a case”.
Read the full article – NO PAY FOR TARDY JUDGES
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.
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.
Marston Gibson, Chief Justice
In the interest of sharing all information received about any matters which BU has reported on, we have been advised and updated on the issue of the Parris v BLP and Nation and Barbados Advocate as follows:
Mr Hal Gollop QC filed an action for defamation against the Nation which pre-dates the Parris action. The law firm of Carrington and Sealy acts for the Nation and Mr Vernon Smith QC is acting for Mr Gollop.
The essence of the complaint is that on January 07, 2013, the Nation captured and published the photograph which is the subject of dispute. Reasonable conclusion, the Nation was the author and the holder of copyright of the photograph. The BLP subsequently used the photograph and caption in their campaign. Thus, Mr Gollop has also advanced a claim of conspiracy against the Nation and the BLP.
Attorney General, Adriel Brathwaite
The Attorney-General of Barbados is the primary legal advisor to the Government of Barbados – Wikipedia
Good luck to Barry Gale QC who defeated ‘pooch skinning’ Alair Shepherd for the position of President of the Barbados Bar Association (BA). Not sure if outgoing president Andrew Pilgrim was able to achieve anything of note except to attain the status of Queens Counsel which lawyers are willing to ‘die’ for it seems.
There was a time when individuals worked hard because there was a consciousness that it was the right thing to do. How ones legacy might be defined was an inevitable consequence. Truth be told in defence of today’s incumbents which see a level of mediocrity hitherto unknown, it may simply be a matter of (in)competence.
Former Attorney General David Simmons is highly regarded by the legal fraternity and the general public. BU however has always been halting in our praise for two reasons. When Simmons demitted the office of Chief Justice (under duress) the delivery of justice caused by the weight of a heavy case load and an inefficient Court Registry should have been the performance indicators which painted his legacy and NOT the quality of his decisions. It was insightful to read Barry Gale’s comments soon after assuming the office of President of the BA concerning the court system. In summary, a mess!
Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank and Watchdog Group
Alair Shepherd QC
The behaviour of a Queens Counsel toward a female judge, in Barbados, is another manifestation of the disrespect being displayed toward our women. According to published reports, the Queens Counsel demonstrated his displeasure with the judge by lifting his robe, backing the judge bending over and inviting her to kiss a part of his anatomy.
This single act reveals that disrespect for our women is now rampant at all social and educational levels. We will remain in the forefront of calling for our women to be respected but there is a bigger picture emerging here. Our Caribbean societies have always elevated some professions beyond godlike status. The medical and legal professions have been the chief beneficiaries of such adulation.
While we have had the occasional professional problems with our doctors, we suggest that such incidents have been for from widespread. We can therefore, with some objectivity, concur that the medical professional has maintained high professional standards. However we are aware that some will suggest that unprofessional conduct within the medical professional is not usually made public.
Sir Henry De B. Forde, K.A. Q.C. – Barbados’ best known counsel
In the last two instalments of Tales From The Courts, BU ventilated an aspect of land law that had the possible potential to cause problems for vendors and purchasers alike. This arose because of an Order given by Miss Kentish of the Barbados High Court. BU’s position evoked much argument from both sides of the issue.
Some well known counsel said that the Order was correct. Some, including it is reported, the a party to a sale and purchase and their counsel, held that the Order was a nullity and therefore refused to proceed with the purchase. It is not the intention of BU to go into the relative merits of this argument. We leave that to the lawyers to discuss among themselves.
What BU will do, however, is to fulfil its function, which is to serve the general Bajan public by pointing out the dilemma facing it. The fact that there are clearly two schools of legal thought within the legal fraternity on this issue of law, means that ultimately one is wrong and the other right. Therefore, it is clearly best for members of the general public, vendors and purchasers of land alike, to err on the side of caution. And it is clearly best for their counsel to be responsible enough to encourage them to do so.