Don’t You Dare Whisper Secrets In The Supreme Court Of Barbados

The Judicial Centre of Barbados

The administration of justice in Barbados has all but ground to a halt as the country waits for the roadblock which prevents Marston Gibson from taking up the position of Chief Justice of Barbados to be cleared. The Prime Minister and Attorney General are both lawyers and are aware of the issues which currently plague our system of justice. They obviously wouldn’t dare admit it publicly but they know.

One of the problems of several which lawyers of late have been concerned about is the audio recording at the Supreme Court.  It seems incredible but there you have it.  It appears  that the recording equipment is set to such a sensitive level that it even picks up whispered consultations between counsel on the same side and between counsel and clients.

Even for those who are not trained in law you  would have gleaned from Perry Mason or Matlock that disclosures between lawyer and client is governed  by the legal concept of attorney-client privilege.  To add to this betrayal of confidentiality the exchanges are then made a part of the court transcript. This is happening in the palatial environs of the Judicial Centre in Whitepark.

Could it be that for some warped reason,  someone positioned in the hierarchy of the judicature thought that eavesdropping on the private consultations of counsel and clients would in some way assist them to render some backwoods version of justice? So, for instance if someone whispered to someone else, “I parked-out with so and so last night up pon Dover Beach,”  this becomes a part of the transcript of the case.

While some may feel this is a trivial complaint by the lawyers in the context of a judicature which has been functioning under a lameduck arrangement for over a year, it is endemic of what ails our system of justice.

29 thoughts on “Don’t You Dare Whisper Secrets In The Supreme Court Of Barbados


  1. I don’t know if it becomes “part of the transcript”, and I’d be interested in finding out how it does, but even if I take your word for it, it is not part of the EVIDENCE in the case, so what’s the problem?

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  3. @David. Pay no attention to Spratt. To show you the ignorance of Spratt, “it is not part of the EVIDENCE in the case, so what’s the problem?”

    The problem, prize idiot (I mean Spratt) is that it becomes part of the PUBLIC DOMAIN! If it is on the court record, it becomes part of the public domain, or was this yet another deficiency in your legal education.

    Here we are talking about Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation. We have excellent working models in Canada and in the UK’s Data Protection Act. Yet, as we move towards this, the courts are deliberately defying the very basis on which protection of privacy is grounded and infringing on the basic rule of solicitor-client privilege on the excuse (a legitimate one admittedly) that if it is said in court it can be recorded. But it is a centuries old custom that such whispered consultations between counsel and clients are held to save requesting an adjournment in order to discuss these points outside the environs of the court. It is a scandal that this is happening and privileged conversations recorded into the public domain.

    But the upside is that lawyers must now ask for adjournments on the most trivial points that require consultation. This gives the judges a chance to adjourn for 5 minutes, go into their chambers and then decide that they have a pressing need to spend the rest of the day liming and send a message to all counsel that they have decided to adjourn the matter sine die.


  4. Rumour has it that the roadblock is his pension. Seems this is now resolved, so not much longer to wait, thank God.


  5. Rumour! innuendo !speculation!is not good enough. For a government to be effective it must be transparent when dealing with imporatnt issues that involves the public and counties interset. It also leads to a total trust for and confidence from its people.


  6. Correction neessary on above comments! please ignore

    Rumour! Innuendo! Speculation! is not good enough . For a government to be effective it must be transparent when dealing with important issues that involves the countries interest . Transparency leads to trust and confidence from the public something that is surely lacking at a time when governments need it the most.


  7. @Jack Spratt
    “It is not part of f the EVIDENCE in the case, so what happens”
    are you some kind of trained mokey


  8. I am subject to correction of course, but the pension referred to is a United States pension I believe, not one from Barbados or in connection with the appointment as chief justice. If this is correct, all of us will understand and sympathize. However, the point that a simple statement to this effect from the government would have been desirable, transparent and avoided a lot of speculation and undertainty is most valid. I mean, if any of us worked in another country for years and was due a pension from that country, we would want to get that squared away. Fair is fair, after all.


  9. Well prior to nomination of CJ any all all roadblocks should have nbeen looked into by this government.People can only overlook so much and might be willing to give the benefit of doubt. to government. However the prolong procedure shows a torrid ineptness by this government and a failure to do due diligence.


  10. @ac: “However the prolong procedure shows a torrid ineptness by this government and a failure to do due diligence.

    And to think most of them are lawyers…

    Perhaps the next government will be made up by engineers….


  11. @ Enuff

    Care to elaborate on your agreement with amused .it would be interesting to know how you form your conclusion. After all hearsay is not allowed in a court of law and right now the conclusions given as to why the CJ is not yet sworn in is speculative at best and unfounded at worst . and can only be verified by himself or the PM Stuart who seems to at a loss for words on all or any issues..


  12. @CH
    The word “THINK” simple as it sounds is very complex to process .Seems like those of higher learner lack the ability to “THINK” .therefore what we have here ‘Is the blind leading the blind” any the rest is history


  13. @ac. Come on, give the man a break. Walk in is shoes a little. But the government should have practiced transparecy.


  14. @ ac

    1.That the government should have made an announcement
    2. The man’s reluctance to leave his pension (if true)

    Does not mean I support the way he was/will be appointed.


  15. Personally it find the above speculation as untrue, Mr. marston Gibson has worked long enough in the justice system in America to have known the way the law works on such issues and to say that the pension is causing a stalemate is disturbing in that all this is connected to law. This kind of speculation is of discredit to him! After all he is part of the system which designs such laws


  16. This article is utter rubbish. The only stuff that’s recorded is what’s said in court while it is in session, and said loud enough that other people could hear. Consultations between lawyer and client are never recorded even if in open court as the mics are not that sensitive, unless you want to have a private conversation right over a mic (which they don’t). Even if they do, all the mics are movable, they simply push them aside…
    Don’t spread propaganda, As the person responsible for the said equipment in the said courts, I would know.


  17. Well I shouldn’t say the mics aren’t that sensitive. I would just say the recordings and the playback through the speakers don’t do the recordings much justice 😛 (at this point that is)


    • @Mark Hinkson

      Are you saying the issue of sensitive mics in the courts picking up private conversations between counsel has not been a problem?

      Are you further saying you are unaware that this is/was a concern by lawyers practicing in the court?


  18. I’ve heard of some instances but nothing as portrayed in this article. Due to the nature of places such as these, I think that would always be a concern.


  19. @Mark Hinkson

    If you are responsible you need to do some checking because our usual reliable sources say you have a problem. Perhaps it explains why the transcripts have been taking so long to deliver to counsel?


  20. @Mark Hinkson. I too have heard great and legitimate concern expressed about consultations between counsel and between solicitor and client being recorded in the courts. And I am not the person in charge. It should not happen AT ALL. That it clearly has is shameful and it is completely irrelevant how many or few times you have heard about it. You seem to think that the concerns expressed by counsel are designed solely to inconvenience you and that by revealing these complaints, BU has in some was been guilty of lese majeste. Not so. BU has simply revealed the concern of professionals on matters that should not even have to be called into question.


  21. Just read this on last page of Barbadostoday and had a WTH moment.

    “Law help.
    Canadian company to upgrade Barbados Laws.”

  22. Pingback: A Barbados Judiciary In Limbo |

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