We started the series in an effort to highlight a judicial system in terminal decline that lacks any credibility anywhere, a Chief Justice whose efforts to correct this are being constantly obstructed and frustrated by appointees from a previous administration and a Government that surely MUST now step in and aggressively support the Chief Justice and fire or discipline any and all who seek to obstruct him in the exercise of his office.
BU also invited private and confidential e-mails from its readers on their own experiences with the Justice System and is now following leads and verifying information on submissions. If we find there to be merit in them, we will name and shame without compunction.
We have also opted to follow up the progress of stories that we had reported on previously, but had chosen not to go into details on then, due to the fact that they were before the courts at the time. However, what we discovered dismayed the BU household to such an extent that whether or not they are before the Courts, they demonstrate a degree of incompetence by the courts that is frankly shocking. Due to this, we hold that these stories are of public interest and refuse to defer to anybody that uses convention as a shield behind which to hide their own incompetence.
A CERTAIN ATTORNEY AND MP: BU has been apprised of a land transaction involving a certain attorney and MP. The transaction comes under the Tenantries Freehold Purchase Act, Cap. 239B. Inevitably this involves the Urban Commission. BU, at this stage, does not think it prudent to go into details on this case or to name names – but rest assured, Mr Attorney MP, if we do not receive notification that this matter has been cleared up, we will ventilate it and you fully. For the time being, BU will content itself with advising the general public and attorneys who may have missed that bit in their training, that Property Transfer Tax is paid ONLY by the Vendor, NOT the Purchaser. In the event that there is a house on the property in existence, whether it is owned by the Vendor or the Purchaser being immaterial, and that house is under the value of $150,000, upon application, the Property Transfer Tax is waived for the Vendor as well. In addition, BU wishes to advise that there is a scale of fees to which attorneys must adhere in matters of real property transactions in Barbados. BU intends to obtain a copy of this scale of fees and publish it. We are looking into this case fully and if, in our opinion, it requires the attention of someone more expert than ourselves, we shall be referring it to one of Her Majesty’s counsel in Barbados for full and complete action, including civil and criminal as well as to the Court of Appeal for disciplinary action against the Attorney(s) concerned. We will, of course, be carrying a full report on the matter later naming names. So, Mr Attorney MP, consider yourself placed on notice.
MADAM JUSTICE ELNETH KENTISH: Madam Justice Kentish is on leave and it is she who is replaced by Madam Justice Beckles (which ought not to be seen as damning Madam Justice Beckles with faint praise, although it looks like it). With any luck the replacement will be permanent. But did you know that Madam Justice Kentish is herself sued in the Barbados High Court? The action against Madam Justice Kentish arises out of her omissions and failures to do her job in respect of a High Court Action commenced in 2004. Omissions and failures that have, to date, cost the Plaintiff $3.5 million. It is noted that only after proceedings had been filed against Madam Justice Kentish, did Madam Justice Kentish finally deliver her long-reserved judgement in 2010. This delay is the basis for the proceedings against her. Meanwhile, predictably in protection of each other, the judges have delayed and retarded the hearing of the application against Madam Justice Kentish with frivolous and annoying delays unworthy of the Bench in any other common law country. This is compounded by the failure of the office of the Attorney General to file within time (or at all) certain documents (indicating that no further information is required) for the matter to be heard. And the failure of the judge in the Kentish action, Madam Justice Margaret Reifer, to make the required declaration that no further information is required, in default of the Attorney General having done as required – a matter of statutory law that could only be misinterpreted by a total incompetent. But it does not stop there. Madam Justice Reifer’s failure is undergoing an application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal to make the declaration she was statute-bound to make. Leave to appeal is heard by one judge. In this case, Madam Justice Goodridge. If the judge is unable or unwilling to grant leave, they must refer it to full hearing of a panel of three judges. Now, a long time later, this matter has not been referred to the panel. A letter to the Registrar complaining – in November 2010 – of the circumstances remains unanswered. A letter to Acting Chief Justice Moore a week later complaining of the lack of response from the Registrar – ALSO REMAINS UNANSWERED. The Plaintiff in this action against Madam Justice Kentish is out of pocket to the tune of $3.5 million. Meanwhile with all this incompetence flying around, the substantive case against Madam Justice Kentish is stalled on issues that, in any competent judicial system, would have been heard before a judge by PHONE and a judgement rendered AT ONCE!!! But, why should this surprise us that the Barbados Justice System has no hesitation in running up the costs? After all, it is that very Justice System that cost Barbados at least $500,000 in the Shanique Myrie case. But, hey, there may be an excuse – like “De file lost.”
THE CONTINUING KNOX SAGA: Back on June 24, 2010, BU reported the outcome of Knox/Allard’s case against the Country of Barbados and over 60 prominent Bajans, including the Prime Minister (Thompson) Owen Arthur and the Chief Justice (David Simmons). Most recently, yet another of the multitudinous Knox/Allard case was heard before the CCJ sitting in Barbados and a decision should be forthcoming very soon. At issue in the CCJ case is the matter of costs awarded against Knox. But there is another issue of costs awarded against Knox that BU referred to in its June 24, 2010 report. It is High Court Action 2279 of 2003 in which Eric Iain Stewart Deane sued Marjorie Knox alleging fraud. BU had heard nothing further of the outcome of this action and decided to investigate and update its readers. We had heard nothing, because there is no outcome. This action, filed in 2003, did not reach the Courts until January 2009, some 6 years later. It was adjourned part-heard in April 2009 and to date, three years later, is uncompleted and no date for the continuation of the hearing has as yet been scheduled. 2279 asks the Court to void Knox’s transfer of her shares in Kingsland Estates Limited and to hand these shares over to Mr Deane in satisfaction of his costs (running, we have ascertained, to some millions of dollars). These costs relate to a case, appeal and the Privy Council Appeal ordered back in June 2005…….7 years ago. The interest alone goes back to 2001 and the first costs order. 11 years have passed without the Barbados Courts completing the hearing of this case. Given the propensity of Knox/Allard to appeal, it does not take clairvoyance to know that this case will end up on appeal before the CCJ, who will doubtless have some pointed and highly critical comments to make about the Barbados Courts, which will provide yet another nail in the coffin of Barbados’ judicial reputation worldwide. BU feels impelled to point out that this is but one of MANY similar delinquencies on the part of the Justice System and BU has chosen to pursue and highlight this one, because of the extensive reporting carried by BU on this particular issue in the past. However, BU readers are encouraged to report on similar cases where justice has been denied through delay. We will, as time permits, investigate and, where appropriate, report on these.
THE OMISSION OF LICENSED LEGAL PRACITIONERS IN THE OFFICIAL GAZETTE LIST: BU reported this matter on February 19, 2012. Included in the names of attorneys omitted from the list were Sir Frederick Smith Q.C., Mr Edmund King Q.C., Mr Maurice King Q.C., Lady Beverley Walrond Q.C., Mr Hal Gollop, Mr Vernon Smith Q.C. BU went on to report that several of the omitted attorneys had served notice on the Registrar of impending legal action against her for, among other things, defamation. There followed a robust discussion on BU in which, among other things, arguments were advanced (a) that no case could be brought against the Registrar and (b) that the Registrar had done nothing wrong and (c) it was even suggested that the omitted attorneys might not have paid their license fees. It may have escaped the attention of BU’s readers, but shortly after our report, the Official Gazette published a new, corrected and complete list of licensed attorneys. Any suggestion that the Registrar did not in fact screw up is now settled. We are unable to discover if the Registrar has had the manners to apologise to the defamed attorneys. Given that lady’s record, we suspect NOT. Registrars and manners in Barbados appear to be strangers – a situation which visitors to the Registry will know (and attorneys will know better) infects that entire office.
STOKING THE TALES OF THE COURTS: Yet again BU issues a clarion call to all and sundry to keep their complaints about the courts and officers of courts coming. Click on this LINK to send your information. Rest assured as always anonymity will be respected.