Leroy Parris v BLP, Nation and Barbados Advocate: Chief Justice Gibson Produces a What the Hell Moment
Barbadians were treated recently to the news that the enigmatic Chairman of CLICO Holdings Barbados Leroy Parris who was deposed when the bottom fell out of the CLICO parent company in Trinidad has filed a legal action against the Nation, Barbados Advocate and Barbados Labour Party (BLP). Parris would not have made the top 200,000th popular person list in Barbados prior to his recent court action. Now that he has filed the action his position is likely to slide to 250,000th.
It is Parris’ right to sue and BU will join citizens in Barbados and across the region to monitor this case where the demise of CLICO has wreaked havoc upon the lives of many. Of interest to the BU family must be the timelines associated with this case. The alleged defamation took place during general elections 2013. The case commenced on the 17 May 2013 and in an efficient three months Leroy Parris has been able to get his case elevated to be heard. This is a startling accomplishment against the background that hundreds of cases of ORDINARY citizens continue to languish in abeyance in our Court System. The Chief Justice Marston Gibson at a recent lecture at the University of the West Indies lamented about the large case load which the Courts of Barbados continue to be burdened. Imagine our horror when we realised that the sitting judge in this matter of Leroy Parris versus Nation newspaper, Barbados Advocate and Barbados Labour Party is Chief Justice Marston Gibson!
The Chief Justice is head of the Court of Appeal and normally does not try cases at first instance. The Registrar of the Court would not normally schedule him to hear such a case at first instance.
Therefore, he (Gibson) must have requested that the case be assigned to him. BU can only conclude the reason for Gibson’s decision is because of its high profile nature and the ongoing publicity that it will garner for him. Perhaps he needs to be reminded that we do not elect our judges, therefore there was no need to pull a PR stunt. Given this development BU is challenged to recall another case where in the High Court or the Court of Appeal a Chief Justice has stepped down to hear a case. To be fair to the Chief Justice, he has the right to sit in any Court even if in this instance it appears to be publicly distasteful and insensitive on several fronts. Unfortunately it is a chambers matter, so there is no press reporting.
Ordinary citizens continue to be licked by the judiciary of Barbados.
Update George Payne v Edmund Hinkson:
Hinkson has applied to the Court for an Order delaying his delivery of an SOD, but have set the application to be heard two weeks AFTER the deadline expires. BU has no information on the position taken on this by Payne. However, BU’s understanding of the procedure is that, if the application is not heard within the time set out in the CPRs for delivery of the SOD, then Hinkson can be noted in default and Payne can apply forthwith upon expiry of the time limit for summary judgement against Hinkson. BU cannot update on what position counsel for Payne has taken.