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:

However, Smith pointed to a long-standing dispute he has had with the Bar Association over his “conclusion” that the law did not require attorneys to pay VAT on subscription fees. He pointed to a January 29, 1997 letter to the secretary of the Bar Association, under the heading “Barbados Bar Association subscription for the year 1997 for Vernon O. Smith and Laurie-Ann Smith of Smith & Smith.” [BU emphasis]

BU proffers the following decision in a House of Lords case for BU legal eagles to ponder given the recent turn of events fired by Vernon Smith QC public position on the matter. We digress to clarify that any reference to BU legal eagles includes Caswell Franklyn who has shown an above average grasp of legal matters posted to BU. Surely some members of the BU family have been most uncharitable to Caswell when debating legal issues. As a consequence Caswell has NOT been amused.

Here is the case referred to  which appears to give credence to Smith’s position that it is illegal for the BA to charge members VAT on subscriptions.

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151 Comments on “Vernon Smith QC Suggests Barbados Bar Association Illegally Charging VAT on Member Subscriptions”

  1. John April 25, 2013 at 12:36 PM #


    How does it differ to taking out an entry in the Yellow Pages?
    It actually doesn’t!!!!

    A listing in the yellow pages attracts VAT which is paid the same time the Telephone Bill is paid!!

    I am pleased to see you are coming around to my way of thinking!!

    If the VAT is not paid, the arrears build up.

    If you are dumb enough to tell Lime you have no intention of paying VAT, your service is discontinued.


  2. Bush Tea April 25, 2013 at 1:26 PM #

    Man Amused call it quits nuh! …your logic is clear affected by your emotion on this one…

    Try and pay the damn Bar fees PLUS the people VAT do! :)

    The bar is BOTH a trade union AND a regulatory body. …(and probably a Rum Shop too…)
    Wunna does benefit from free education
    Wunna get free access to client funds for loans
    Wunna does hardly pay PAYE
    Wunna does benefit from legalized MINIMUM FEES
    Wunna does get protection from competition
    ….and want to get VAT exemption too….?


  3. John April 25, 2013 at 1:47 PM #

    Actually, there is one huge difference between a Yellow Page Listing and membership of the Bar.

    A Yellow Pages Listing is entirely optional.


  4. Well Well April 25, 2013 at 2:28 PM #

    Bushie……….obviously they want much, much more, without giving back anything……………..


  5. John April 25, 2013 at 2:39 PM #

    (5) The Registrar shall cause to be published in the Official Gazette
    (a) in the month of February in every year, an alphabetical list of persons who have at the 31st January in that year obtained a Practising Certificate;
    (b) as soon as practicable after he obtains a Practising Certificate, the name of any person obtaining a Practising Certificate after the 31st January in any year.
    (6) A copy of the Official Gazette containing the list referred to in paragraph (a) of subsection (5) or the name of any person published pursuant to paragraph (b) of that subsection shall be Prima facie evidence in any court of the registration on the Roll of the name of, and the holding of a valid Practising Certificate by, any person mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b) of that subsection.

    The Public, through the Official Gazette can know who has a Practising Certificate …… or not!!

    By now, the February Edition should have been published by the Registrar, possibly even the March Edition too.




  7. Well Well April 25, 2013 at 3:32 PM #

    I am now beginning to think that some of them have been practicing for years without a valid practicing certificate with the full knowledge of the PMs, AGs, CJs……………..jeez, could this get any worse?


  8. Anonymous42 April 25, 2013 at 4:50 PM #

    Is a practice certificate a prerequisite to practicing law in Barbados?

    If the law requires that lawyers must pay the BA fee, plus VAT, to receive a practicing certificate which allows them to practice their profession in Barbados


    if some lawyers are practicing and have been doing so since 1997, when VAT was introduced, and are not being prosecuted for practicing without a valid certificate, then it stands to reason that these lawyers have obtained practice certificates by some means other than by paying BA fees plus VAT


    lawyers do not need a practicing certificate to practice law in Barbados.

    Can someone from Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand or Trinidad tell us how it works as nobody here in Barbados seems to know the answer?


  9. John April 25, 2013 at 6:18 PM #

    Looks like same old thing across the waters in TT!!

    “Please be advised that the Council intends to take sanctions including publication of the names of Members who fail to hold a valid Practising Certificate. Dated 14th September, 2012”


  10. june boy April 25, 2013 at 8:33 PM #

    Barbados hAS BECOME A LAWLESS SOCIETY, drivers driving as they like way above the speed limit, parking at night without lights, parking around corners, parking on the wrong side of the road. The doctors not registering, yet pratising, the attorneys at law doing the same. Teachers at another school is ready to follw the BSTU path with another principal, even the clergy at Codrington College are planning to strick.Now the politicians ripping off the very people who put them there, but the BPF can’t do anything about it because the top brass is divided and not speaking to each other. This country , like the Jamaican minister said, needs Divine intervention.


  11. islandgal246 April 25, 2013 at 8:41 PM #

    Juney ma boy mamma send yuh to school to learn to read and write…..
    De word is strike and stop writing strick
    And mekking up nuff lotta shite
    Practice is what you must do a lot
    And den yuh gine get it right


  12. robert ross April 26, 2013 at 1:16 AM #

    The CJ was on TV this evening referring to the backlog of cases. Is this man a complete joke? The CA judgment in the constitutionally significant ‘gun case’, heard in January 201 wasn’t it, was promised for June 2012. Well we’re all still waiting and judges are now giving suspended sentences (eh?) in gun matters in the absence of clear direction from a CA headed by him. The man is good at self-promotion. Is he capable of a sustained piece of legal writing? If not, let one of the others do it.

    And on the issue of Alair……would someone tell me what authority the CJ has for doing anything? Isn’t the proper course for complaint to be made to the Disciplinary Committee? After all, Alair has paid his dues to the BA hasn’t he and so actually practises within the system statute requires?

    I am told that Alair’s spleenfully elevated gown was a direct consequence of the judge’s repeated tardiness and, if so, he gave her (and rightly) an analogous kick in the a.. Great. We are far too prone to fawn to the powerful simply because they’re THERE.

    @ David

    Yes…and one of the payers is I gather, and as you must know very well, one who has vociferously been in the van of ‘principled non-payment’. If that’s right…. another joke. Well good luck to him today. He’s waited long enough for promotion he would say. But then humility was never his strong point.


  13. robert ross April 26, 2013 at 1:35 AM #

    @ Islandgal and June Boy

    ‘Strick’ or ‘strike’, other than as a spelling exercise, is neither here nor there. The clergy at Codrington are not planning to strick. The students are protesting through the Nation at the autocratic idiocy of the Principal and, indirectly, about the system of which he forms a part and which placed him there – and not before time. Is the fact of protest itself ‘Divine intervention’?


  14. Amused April 26, 2013 at 1:41 AM #

    @Lassie. So you are saying that the BA, which looks like a duck and quacks like a duck – I mean TRADE UNION, has refused, failed and/or ommitted to pay for registration under the Trade Union Act? Lovely. And yet it is jumping up and down because attorneys have opted NOT to belong to it and have questioned the constitutionality of the Act by which it insists on them belonging? Would appear to me that this is a case of pot calling kettle black.


  15. Caswell Franklyn April 26, 2013 at 5:53 AM #


    You are too wrong for words, and that has been increasing here of late. It seems that those neurons are mis-firing.


  16. David April 26, 2013 at 6:31 AM #


    According to Andrew Pilgrim it will be settled soon. It does not remove the concern why under several AGs and BA presidents it would have been allowed to fester. Finally why would a former CJ advise to forget about it.

    To the comment by the CJ delivered at UWI the other night. He stated that it is an impossible task for 8 sitting judges to relieve the backlog. Well hear this CJ, we do NOT want you to restate the problem. We know the damn problem. We have known it for YEARS!


  17. Amused April 26, 2013 at 1:46 AM #

    @Anonymous42 | April 25, 2013 at 4:50 PM | I refer you to the comments of Solicitor in the previous blog on this issue.


  18. Well Well April 26, 2013 at 7:40 AM #

    How come the CJ does not have clerks and paralegals to help him write briefs or whatever is needed………….he knows this is standard operating procedures in NY…………..or has he forgotten, the old sun and sea and sudden elevation to some kinda system i hope has not gone to his head.



    @robert ross Isn’t the proper course for complaint to be made to the Disciplinary Committee?@ if so, tell us who they have given Disciplinary to?Its not working for the people but working well for the bad lawyers, So if they delay 20 years like court cases who suffers? If the Disciplinary Committee does nothing , what you say is the next step? is it to for get it? or self help is needed by those who believed they were WRONGED.


  20. Well Well April 27, 2013 at 6:28 AM #

    I see the newly minted CJ is doing the same thing Simmons did, pep talk for the newly minted lawyers about discipline blah blah blah, while still doing nothing about the old disgusting corrupt lawyers still cemented into the system, way to go Gibson, just keep taking pages out of Simmons’ book………………..


  21. june boy April 27, 2013 at 1:26 PM #

    Island Gal
    I’m a simple man just expressing my thoughts and not even reading over. Every day I look into my local print media ( especially the Daily Nation), I see the most outrageous spelling and grammer posible. These editors suppose to have a Mass Communications degree, plus there are or were proof readers,yet on a daily basis they make mistakes. I hear very often Min. Ronald Jones talking about TREE instead of THREE and TROOF instead of TRUTH, but you would want to crucikill a little man like me for simply expressing my thoughts? You know what I meant because you corrected me, DEAL WITH THE ISSUES NOT THE SPELLING. Incedentally, at CXC I would not have lost marks for anything spelt wrong, once it is known what I meant. If you don’t like what I read, PLEASE ignore it and read someone else, you are catching at little things.I don’t get the comp to proof read for me I just print without even reading over. If this would make you fel better, I APOLOGISE to you but I would continue to do what I do. BLESSINGS


  22. june boy April 27, 2013 at 1:40 PM #

    The DLP broke all the laws to get Mr Gibson and I,ve seen nothing he was done any better than anyone else. What will happen to those cases that were pending for over ten to twelve years, can these people still be brought to trial? In 2001, I had a case in court trying to retreive over Bds $ 5000.00 due to me, I was told the defendent was served but to date I have NEVER been called to court. Quite honest, Ive lost all interest in the case even if it is called now.


  23. june boy April 27, 2013 at 1:41 PM #

    Island Gal
    I meant HAS DONE and not WAS DONE


  24. Hants April 28, 2013 at 8:18 AM #

    “Disbar me if you want, but get on with the job of having cases finished and let lawyers be able to earn a living like anyone else,” the 62-year-old Queen’s Counsel said yesterday.

    “I’m willing to deal with whatever punishment they hand out, even if it means I wouldn’t be a lawyer anymore. At this stage I really don’t care anymore about what they do to me,” he added.

    When translated that can mean… All ah wunna can kiss my ash.Wunna can’t do me one brassbowl an I really doan give a care so funk you.

    Pure entertainment.


  25. John April 28, 2013 at 11:20 AM #

    Maybe he is just making an issue of the delays in court and is willing to stick his neck out.

    Remember, respect is earned, it just doesn’t happen because of position.

    But I agree, he seems to be willing to take this issue to its logical conclusion.

    He probably will face some judicial delay!! Some decisions take years.

    Jeff Cumberbatch has an article in the Nation about the disciplining of lawyers in the US for bad behaviour …… but he could equally have done an article on the disciplining of Judges there … and that never happens here!!

    Perhaps if it did there would be no delay and Alair would get his come uppance pronto ….. or maybe he would never have felt the need to act as he did.


  26. David April 28, 2013 at 11:35 AM #

    Jeff writes for the BarbadosAdvocate and NOT the Nation newspaper.

    Here is the article.

    Musings: Lowering the Bar II


    By Jeff Cumberbatch

    Incivility: potent displays of disrespect for the participants in the justice system, beyond mere rudeness or discourtesy… – Michael Code (2007) Can. Crim.LR 97

    “The lawyer, as an intimate part of the legal system, plays a pivotal role in ensuring the accountability and transparency of the judiciary. To play that role effectively, he/she must feel free to act and speak without inhibition and with courage…” – Steel JA [2007]

    I was not to the traditional manor born. And, frequently, in the environs of my childhood, disputes between women of a certain age only would erupt into public spectacles replete with shouted accusations and counter-accusations of immoral and amoral activity, embarrassing situations and penury. These quarrels or ‘busings which, on reflection, now seem almost comedic never resulted in the violence that is commonplace today when offence is so easily taken. Gabby’s composition, “Needles and Pins” captures some aspects of this cultural event admirably.


  27. Gabriel Tackle April 28, 2013 at 11:53 AM #

    Hants 8.18am
    I could’nt agree with you more.With over 500 lawyers in Barbados the Parliament should decree that henceforth all local(and those others who are willing) UWI graduates must serve a minimum period of service in all the different areas of administration of justice in Barbados until the unsatisfactory delays are history.


  28. Sargeant April 28, 2013 at 12:38 PM #


    The salient point in Jeff C’s column is that the Disciplinary Committee of the Quebec Bar Association suspended the lawyer. The Bar Association in Barbados is devoid of teeth, when last have you heard of a lawyer in Bim being suspended for anything? Far from teeth it is also lacking gums so it can’t even pretend to bite.


  29. Bush Tea April 28, 2013 at 1:07 PM #

    @ Hants
    Excellent translation….you are one Bajan who can return home anytime and merge right back in…..
    ….but that is not a compliment :)


  30. John April 28, 2013 at 1:38 PM #

    I commented on judicial delay at BFP on 19th November 2010.

    At that time, judicial delay in 3 out of 14 cases from Barbados

    Here is what the CCJ had to say about judicial delay in the third case which attracted their attention.

    [19] Before addressing the above points, it is unfortunate that we cannot overlook that Waterman J took three years to deliver his judgment, while the Court of Appeal took almost four and a half years, despite section 18(8) of the Constitution conferring upon litigants the right for their case to “be given a fair hearing within a reasonable time”, which necessarily requires that the judgment in the case be given within a reasonable time. As de la Bastide P stated in the first appeal3 we heard from Barbados (where there had been a delay of four years ten months in the Court of Appeal giving its reserved judgment), such delays “deny parties the access to justice to which they are entitled and undermine confidence in the administration of justice.”

    [20] Subsequently in Reid v Reid (where there had been a similar delay of four years ten months) Saunders J, on behalf of the CCJ stated, “In our view, no judgment should be outstanding for more than six months and, unless a case is one of unusual difficulty or complexity, judgment should normally be delivered within three months.” Such efficient justice is needed not just for the furtherance of the best interests of employers and employees but also for the proper protection and encouragement of investors and entrepreneurs whose activities are crucial to the welfare of Barbados and its people. Happily, the Chief Justice has taken steps to
    improve efficiency in the timely delivery of judgments.

    In the second one which attracted their attention here is what they said.

    “[22] Before addressing the arguments of counsel made to us, it would be remiss of this Court not to advert to the length of time taken by the Court of Appeal to deliver its judgment in this case. This was an astonishing period of almost five years. In the first appeal we heard from Barbados, Mirchandani (No. 1)1, de la Bastide, P. expressed this Court’s strong disapproval of judicial delays. Such delays, the President stated, “deny parties the access to justice to which they are entitled and undermine public confidence in the administration of justice”. The effectiveness of a judiciary is seriously compromised if it fails to monitor itself in respect of the time taken to deliver judgments and to arrest promptly any tendency to lapse in this aspect of its performance. This is the second time we have had occasion to call attention to inordinate delay in the delivery of judgments in Barbados. We trust that effective remedial action, if not already taken, will now be taken to ensure that judgments are delivered within a reasonable time as required by the Constitution of Barbados2. What is a reasonable time? In our view, as a general rule no judgment should be outstanding for more than six months and unless a case is one of unusual difficulty or complexity, judgment should normally be delivered within three months at most.”

    … and in the very first case the CCJ heard from Barbados, judicial delay also featured.

    45. We are very conscious of the enormous delay which has occurred in this case and about which both sides have complained. The parties themselves have contributed to some extent to the delay. The respondents and the applicant took over 12 and 14 months respectively to file lists of documents which they had been ordered to file within 42 days. After the applicant had filed its list of documents, it took the respondents 11 months to apply for a further and better list. But these delays are dwarfed by the delays of Husbands J. and the Court of Appeal in giving their respective judgments. The periods for which these judgments remained undelivered total more than seven years. We would be failing in our duty if we did not express our strong disapproval of judicial delays of that order. They deny parties the access to justice to which they are entitled and undermine public confidence in the administration of justice. We would like to think that such delays are now a thing of the past in Barbados. We realize that the effect of our decision may be to postpone, either minimally or substantially, depending on the outcome of the appeal, the final resolution of this matter. It would be unfair, however, to the applicant to deny it the special leave to which it is otherwise entitled, because of delay in the proceedings for which it is not for the most part responsible. It is to be hoped that the history of delay in this case will serve to accelerate the pace at which the matter proceeds from now on. We will certainly do whatever we can to ensure that.


  31. John April 28, 2013 at 2:10 PM #

    This link allows anyone interested in seeing all of the decisions of the CCJ to do so.

    I looked at the Appellate Jurisdiction and since I last looked in 2010, there have been a further 8 cases appealed from Barbados in which decisions have been given.

    I’ll take a look and see if the CCJ highlights any examples of judicial delay occurring in any of these cases.

    Should be just a matter of downloading the pdf and searching for the word “delay”!!

    Anyone can do it.


  32. Well Well April 28, 2013 at 2:16 PM #

    I can’t believe after 8 years and going to the CCJ this Mirchandi case does not have a final conclusion…………why are the judges in Bim so out of control at taxpayers expense?


  33. David April 28, 2013 at 2:17 PM #

    One does not need the CCJ to tell us we have a problem with the quality of decisions and the delay coming from our Bench.


  34. Well Well April 28, 2013 at 4:48 PM #

    I believe the judges’ perspective on this is, they have made it, they get free housing, allowance, vehicles, and all the other perks, why bother……….they probably are there for life and with a pension to boot. It makes you feel physically ill that a CJ is also employed but is as useless and impotent as the AG and PM, just a lot of useless titles.


  35. John April 28, 2013 at 5:22 PM #

    David | April 28, 2013 at 2:17 PM |

    One does not need the CCJ to tell us we have a problem with the quality of decisions and the delay coming from our Bench.

    So who disciplines the members of the judiciary?

    Seems the final court should have the say in fixing the problem we all seem to know exists.

    Everybody else is expected to show respect.


  36. David April 28, 2013 at 5:26 PM #


    It is up to leaders in Barbados to lead if there is evidence to support it. The Constitution is on the side of those who want to lead.


  37. John April 28, 2013 at 7:00 PM #

    I started to go through the decisions since 2010 at CCJ and came across one in 2011 which also highlighted the judicial delay.

    In fact, the CCJ raised the issue at paragraphs 3 and 4, right up at the top and referred to an approach taken by English Courts in dealing with Judicial delay …. make the offending Judge apologise and give an explanation, if one existed, of the reason for the delay.

    Separation of powers prevents our “leaders” from interfering in the conduct of a Judge and rightly so. However, the Courts can as is shown below.

    Funny thing, Alair Shepherd appeared in the case.

    Perhaps the day is near when our Court of Appeal orders a Judge at First Instance to apologise for delay and give an explanation, or perhaps it will fall to the CCJ.

    [3] Unfortunately, it would be remiss of us if we did not again comment adversely upon the excessive delays in the delivery of reserved judgments. The trial judge took over two years four months – and even then it took over eight months for his order to be finalised – while the Court of Appeal took two years, all in the context of litigants having a constitutional right under Article 18(8) of the Constitution that their “case
    shall be given a fair hearing within a reasonable time.” The outcome of the hearing is clearly a key part of the hearing process. In Reid v Reid Saunders J in delivering this Court’s judgment stated, “as a general rule no judgment should be outstanding for more than six months and unless a case is one of unusual difficulty or complexity, judgment should normally be delivered within three months at most.”

    [4] While appreciating that circumstances as to finances, facilities, manpower and other resources will vary from country to country and a reasonable time varies according to circumstances, it is worthwhile noting the recent approach of the English Court of Appeal in Bond v Dunster Properties Ltd where the trial judge did not deliver his judgment for twenty two months. Arden LJ stated “This extraordinary delay clearly called for an apology and, if any existed, an explanation of the mitigating circumstances… The matter goes further than just the effect on the parties. An unreasonable delay of this kind reflects adversely
    on the reputation and credibility of the civil justice system as a whole, and
    reinforces the negative images which the public can have of the way judges and lawyers perform their roles. If there were regular delays of this order, the rule of law would be undermined.”


  38. John April 28, 2013 at 11:23 PM #

    In fact, if the CCJ does as it seems to indicate it might do in the future and order apologies from Judges as in Dunster vs Bond, BU may be able to claim it was the 19 May 2011 blog on the decision that prompted the CCJ to use that decision in their judgment a few moths later!!



  39. Amused April 29, 2013 at 3:11 AM #

    @John. Quite right. Now read Section 84 of the Constitution. Does delay denote “misconduct” on the part of a judge? We need only go for guidance to the English courts which say that it DOES!!!


  40. John April 29, 2013 at 10:58 AM #

    Logically, an apology in itself indicates an admission of misconduct otherwise why apologise!

    Once so ordered by a Higher Court, the Judge has no option but to apologise or be cited for contempt, more misconduct.

    No Judge is above the law.

    Such an order to apologise would then seem to be a finding by the court of misconduct on the part of the judge and open the way for his/her removal.

    I wonder how many judges have decisions outstanding more than 6 months, or a year … or two years.

    The Bar will probably have a list, as will the judiciary itself.

    My bet is that Attornies at law will probably know just which Judges could end up under the gavel.

    Must be difficult to keep bowing.

    If any of those decisions with excessive delay on the part of a judge or judges get to the CCJ his/her/their goose/geese may be cooked!!

    The judiciary thus has a means of self-regulating and delay on their part is unexcusable.


  41. David April 29, 2013 at 11:12 AM #


    What is it about an apology not dealing with the substantive issue you don’t understand?

    An apology does not deal with the incompetence of individuals sitting on the Bench OR the systemic issues affecting the backlog at the Court Registry.


  42. Amused April 29, 2013 at 12:09 PM #

    @John. I completely agree with David. You are trying to interpret far beyond the outer limits of what “misconduct” means. In more enlightened jurisdictions with judges that are far brighter and better trained that the Barbados lot of incompetents, apologies are not infrequent. AND they are NO evidence of misconduct. Rather, in some cases if there was no apology, it would be questionable indeed.

    Delays are dealt with expeditiously in other jurisdictions. BU ran a piece about just such a one in the UK courts some years ago, in conjunction with the case you cited earlier. I also draw your attention to what happened to Lord Justice Harman. Here is the link: So it would seem that in the UK, they are interested in protecting the integrity of the Bench. A far cry from Barbados.

    I leave you with a thought. By my admittedly slightly questionable calculations (bot only very slightly questionable) in the last two years of the tenure of David Simmons, judges of the High Court sat for about 120 days. The reason for this was they were always being dragged off by the CJ to “retreats” where they were being taught how to judge. That meant that about 200 cases a week had to be cancelled and re-scheduled. I am not sure what good these “retreats” were supposed to do, as I would have thought that a prerequisite for attendance would have been a knowledge of law. But can you imagine how this contributed to the present backlog?

    It does not seem unreasonable that the backlog of cases in the Court of Appeal has a lot to do with the fact that it sits only 3 days in 5.

    The constructive dismissal of Simmons was the single largest favour that David Thompson did the country. Pity Thompson’s good intentions got ruined by the person appointed to succeed Simmons.


  43. John April 29, 2013 at 2:21 PM #

    David | April 29, 2013 at 11:12 AM |


    An apology does not deal with the incompetence of individuals sitting on the Bench OR the systemic issues affecting the backlog at the Court Registry.

    I disagree.

    If the conduct of a judge results in an order to make him apologise, the way becomes open for his/her removal.

    In the case Amused proffered, the Judge resigned and nobody had to fire him.

    The result was the same.

    Agree it didn’t mean his replacement was any better, but atleast a new choice became possible and the system had the chance to get rid of the problems he caused.

    …… and I am sure the other Judges took notice and redoubled their efforts to make the system work better.

    Confucius say: It is always better to be seen to be a part of the solution than to be identified as part of the problem.


  44. David April 29, 2013 at 2:24 PM #

    There you go relying on convention to improve the system. Nobody resigns in the Caribbean.


  45. John April 29, 2013 at 4:26 PM #

    David | April 29, 2013 at 2:24 PM |

    There you go relying on convention to improve the system. Nobody resigns in the Caribbean.

    It will happen for the simple reason that Barbados has set itself up as a destination to attract offshore business.

    A legal system that operates at variance with the rest of the world will destroy any attempts to attract foreign capital.

    Comity, not comedy will rule ……. ultimately.

    The alternative is unthinkable.


  46. Amused April 30, 2013 at 2:45 AM #

    @John. Old son, you way off base and David is, once again, 100% correct. They do NOT resign in the Caribbean – just look at Dottin the Dolt and the other idiot who is DPP. Now, they MIGHT resign if they were given the option of resign or get fired.

    But the ball-less wonders we call the legislature and the CJ, are not going to offer them the option of going sua sponte or being kicked the hell out. After all, it might lose them a few votes from the supporters of those to whom they offer the option – and they refuse to consider the option that it might garner them many more votes due to the approval of the taxpayers.

    I am pleased to say that the BU offensive is having an effect. No longer are the idiocies of the Justice System being hidden. Rather they are exposed to the startled and disgusted stare of the taxpayers. The problem is that the legislature (not noted for their brains, only their greed) is yet to discover that its bread is buttered by asking members of the judiciary, from the CJ down, especially the Registrar, to resign or be fired. And they will find out the hard way.

    As for the off-shore comment, back in 1993/94 and through to about 2000, Barbados was the fastest growing off shore investment port in the world, even surpassing Russia. It must not be allowed to escape our attention that the demise (and I use the word “demise” in its dictionary sense) curiously coincided with the demise of the justice system. So, for the last 10 years or so, respective governments of Barbados have had ample opportunity to make the obvious connection, and yet they have done nothing, except saddle us with a CJ who thinks he is in the States and needs to electioneer to keep his position, instead of keeping his damned mouth shut and simply doing his job. So I hope you are right.

    I entirely disapprove of what Alair did by holding up his gown – to anyone, whether it be woman or man or judge or anyone. BUT, whatever you may say, Alair DOES have balls and he will not back off. He has to be admired greatly – even if one does wish he was brighter. AND that single incident has served to pull the trigger of the gun so admirably and consistently loaded by BU. Then, in steps Mr Smith QC, who is also not known for a lack of testicular fortitude and you know that this issue ain’t going away at all. And Mr Smith is VERY bright.


  47. erice April 30, 2013 at 5:53 AM #

    DAVID–The judges and Magistrates need to give written judwhere casegement in all cases —there are a number of decisions made by Magistrate Robert Simmons which were appealed but would you beleive that he has not written why he has made those decisions and yet the poor GENTLEMAN now has to pay a lawyer again to restart these cases —-what justice do we have in Barbados where cases are decided on wh


  48. David April 30, 2013 at 6:14 AM #


    Unfortunately what you have commented and what BU has been leading the fight against the poor justice system is a reality which is with us. If you can get the documentation or relevant info we can look at it to see how we can expose it to public scrutiny.


  49. Common sense is not common April 30, 2013 at 8:28 AM #

    Wasn’t magistrate Robert Simmons a former clerk of David Simmons former A.G. and CJ and was ultimately rewarded with the position of magistrate?

    The whole judiciary is filled with incompetent,lazy individuals who don’t wan’t to do a proper day’s work but stretch their hands out for ALL the benefits of the job.

    They were all given their plum postions as a reward from the party,in particular the BLP.

    The time is past gone where judges should be interviewed and selected from a panel of emminent retired jurists from here and abroad.Party politics killing we.

    Barbados is soon becoming the shame of the caribbean where the judiciary is concerned.

    As to Marston Gibson CJ,does this man do any work at all?Is he here only to attend social events?

    He really is a disgrace.

    Can Freundel Stuart fire this man and is the bar to do so a very high one to clear?

    Our society is in decay,from the courts,unions,hospitals,media,church,politicians.

    Lord help us all.


  50. Bush Tea April 30, 2013 at 8:51 AM #

    Fire him and put who?….Caswell?
    …the place is short on testostarone….

    Who gwine fire him….Freundy? Braffit? LOL Ha Ha
    …dem can’t even fire the Dotts….

    Um is like cricket….too many no-balls :)


  51. John April 30, 2013 at 9:09 AM #


    I entirely disapprove of what Alair did by holding up his gown – to anyone, whether it be woman or man or judge or anyone. BUT, whatever you may say, Alair DOES have balls and he will not back off. He has to be admired greatly – even if one does wish he was brighter. AND that single incident has served to pull the trigger of the gun so admirably and consistently loaded by BU. Then, in steps Mr Smith QC, who is also not known for a lack of testicular fortitude and you know that this issue ain’t going away at all. And Mr Smith is VERY bright

    I wasn’t present and have no idea what went on between Alair Shepherd and the Judge so I will hold strain on rushing to judgment until the facts are available.

    Mr. Smith may be bright but I think he needs to read up on the VAT Act if what was presented in previous blogs on BU is a true representation of his opinion.

    Very often, discretion is the better part of valour.

    It is good to be brave, but it is also good to be careful.; If you are careful, you will not get into situations that require you to be brave – that’s what the internet says is an interpretation of the idiom!!


  52. David April 30, 2013 at 9:25 AM #


    You are batting on the wrong pitch. This is not about Smith BUT more about the BA which has faltered in dealing with this matter over the years.


  53. Amused April 30, 2013 at 11:09 AM #

    @John. I agree with David. Also, may I point out without euquivocation that you can be very sure that Mr Smith has indeed “read up on” the VAT Act. Otherwise that is one very bright lawyer who would never have taken the stand that he has. You may also be very sure that Mr Smith has not only fully researched the subject, but has sought advice from top colleagues, not only in Barbados, but around the world. You can be absolutely sure that he has all his ducks in a row.

    But we learn from the documents posted here on BU that these issues have been festering and allowed to fester for YEARS. That, instead of moving to clarify and determine the issues, the BA made a resolution back in 2008 to not do anything. So, when is the BA going to do something? Next year when there are 300 dissenting lawyers? They cannot just go to a judge for a ruling, they have to file an action against someone. And when they do, all 300 of those lawyers have the right to join the action, and that is what they will do. Thus, something that could have been clarified and handled YEARS ago has been allowed to grow so that the costs that were considered high in 2008 will be a mere bagatelle by comparison to what they will have to pay next year if they delay until then.

    I believe that the thrust of this whole piece on BU is, as David said, about the bigger picture. You have seen arguments from BU’s legal eagles that the Act will not survive a challenge to its constitutionality. So the question of VAT is in itself moot if that is the case. Ergo, goodbye BA. I will even go so far as to say GOOD RIDDANCE!!! The BA produced NOTHING, not even a credible disciplinary committee, since it does not issue the licenses for lawyers to practice.

    Therefore, what is needed is a disciplinary committee from within the authority that issues practice certificates. This, to me, is a no-brainer. In that way, maybe the budy system of the BA will be replaced by a body that has the will and the power to actually discipline. You will note that I say, “Maybe.” But at least it would be a far more logical and constitutional step in the right direction. And it may even work, if only partially. Which is an improvement on what happens now.


  54. John April 30, 2013 at 11:23 AM #

    David | April 30, 2013 at 9:25 AM |


    You are batting on the wrong pitch. This is not about Smith BUT more about the BA which has faltered in dealing with this matter over the years.

    The Bar may or may not be obsolete but the law is the law until changed.

    The Bar’s position seems clear, VAT is chargeable on fees.

    Legal Profession Act is also clear membership of the Bar is compulsory.

    …. and the title of the blog is “Vernon Smith QC Suggests Barbados Bar Association Illegally Charging VAT on Member Subscriptions”

    What other wicket is there to bat on?


  55. David April 30, 2013 at 11:55 AM #


    It seems you are refusing to accept that the issue here has moved passed where you are anchored. Here is the issue in simple terms for your benefit.

    There is the law and there are some who have refused to obey the law. What next Sir? Does it not require the ‘authority’ to deal with the law breaker? Here is a hint, think being pragmatic and not being idealistic.


  56. John April 30, 2013 at 12:11 PM #

    The “authority” is the Registrar when she lists the attorneys in the Official Gazette to whom a Practice Certificate has been issued as she/he is required by law to do in the February issue of the Gazette.

    Do you know if the Registrar is refusing to obey the law too?


  57. Amused April 30, 2013 at 1:02 PM #

    @John. You are making me tired now. As David says, the discussion has moved past your berth.Way past. I can reliably inform you that this year’s listings in the Official Gazette includes all holders of paid-up practice certificates, INCLUDING the 70 or so non-members of the BA. You can probably verify that by asking to see a copy from any friends of yours who are attorneys-at-law or maybe a quick visit to the GIS would help. Good luck. Me over and out.


  58. John April 30, 2013 at 1:59 PM #

    I guess the relevant question would be on what or whose authority has the “authority” issued these 70 or so practice certificates to non-members of the BA?

    Another question might be are these 70 or so non-members of the BA subject to any disciplinary body?


  59. David April 30, 2013 at 2:15 PM #


    As you continue to chase your tail on this issue let us leave you with this one. If the status quo remains what next?


  60. John April 30, 2013 at 2:27 PM #

    I guess if the status quo remained it would mean it is quite legal and proper for a 10 % minority to get special dispensation in Barbados.


  61. Well Well April 30, 2013 at 4:05 PM #

    A indictment on despicable judges in the US……………………


  62. Well Well April 30, 2013 at 4:06 PM #

    Should be an indictment.


  63. Well Well April 30, 2013 at 4:16 PM #

    I am really curious to know if the 70 non members of the Bar Association have been practicing law illegally in Bim……… can this be clarified?………Amused, Caswell or Jeff may be in a better position legally to respond


  64. John April 30, 2013 at 8:43 PM #

    Using the link to the Legal Profession Act in the story it is easy to get to the section dealing with Compulsory Membership of the Bar Association.

    Here is an OCRed version of the Section … may have a couple of mistakes.

    Compulsory Membership of Bar Association

    44. (1) An attorney-at-law shall, on each occasion on which a Practising Certificate is issued to him, pay to the Bar Association the annual subscription which is or would be payable by him under section 45 as a member of the Association, and shall thereupon if not already a member, notwithstanding anything in any by-law, ordinance, order, rule or regulation of the Association, become by virtue of this section and without election or appointment by the Association, a member of the Association ;

    (2) Any person to whom section 4 applies whose name is registered on the Roll, other than a Judge, Magistrate, Registrar or Deputy Registrar, shall be deemed at the date of such registration (if not already a member) to have become a member of the Bar Association as from that date.

    (3) Every member of the Bar Association who ceases to hold a valid Practising Certificate shall thereupon cease to be a member of the Association unless he retains his membership in accordance with subsection (4)

    (4) The Bar Association may elect and appoint to be a member of the Association any person whose name is for the time being registered on the Roll, whether or not he has held or holds a Practising Certificate and upon appointment and election and payment, subject to subsection (5), of the annual subscription payable under section 45, every such person shall become a member of the Bar Association.

    (5) Nothing in this section shall be construed as requiring a Judge, Magistrate, Registrar or Deputy Registrar to be or become a member of the Bar Association or to pay any subscription to the Association.

    45. (1) The amount of the annual subscription payable by members of the Bar Association shall be as fixed from time to Bar time by the Association.

    (2) In fixing the amount of the annual subscription, the Bar Association may divide members into categories, provide that different amounts shall be paid by different categories and extend over different periods and generally regulate and vary the subscriptions payable by members or by different categories of members, as the Association thinks fit.

    (3) A Practising Certificate issued to an attorney-at-law shall be of no effect until the annual subscription required by section 44 has been paid.

    46. (1) Where the name of an attorney-at-law is removed from the Roll, that attorney-at-law shall, unless he becomes a member of the Bar Association by virtue of some other provision of this Act, thereupon cease to be a member of the Association.

    (2) A member of the Bar Association who is suspended from practising as an attorney-at-law shall not be entitled during the period of his suspension to any of the rights and privileges of membership of the Association.


  65. Well Well April 30, 2013 at 9:40 PM #

    So i take it 70 attorneys who have not been members of the BAR, holding no practicing certificates, have been illegally practicing law in Barbados for decades, with the blessing of various CJs, AGs and PMs………great going..too bad, so sad.


  66. John May 1, 2013 at 12:38 PM #

    Caswell should see if he can’t get one of these Practice Certificates that are sharing out!!

    I doubt he would though as he comes across as being interested only in the real McCoy, not any monopoly certificate!!


  67. JJ Solomon November 12, 2013 at 8:51 AM #

    Bajans are not behaving like educated people, there are living in cloud cookoo land. Allowing thieving lawyers to hurt so much people. Bajans Use the CCJ read the legal profession act, your chance of using the said laws to hurt them, they are evil, the sad thing about this, most MPs in Barbados are lawyers Jesus Christ who is going to help us and pray wouldn’t.


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