Unification of the Magna Carta: The Model for Constitutions in the English Speaking World

A copy of the Magna Carta from Sailsbury Cathedral

A copy of the Magna Carta from Sailsbury Cathedral

Although Magna Carta was signed in 1213, it was issued on 15 June 1215. Magna Carta represents the most important part of the extensive historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law in the English speaking world. It was used as a model for many of the colonies, including Barbados, as they were developing their own legal systems and the constitutions as they became independent.

Barbados’ own Treaty of Oistins, signed at the Mermaid Tavern in Oistins in 1652 depends heavily on Magna Carta. And the US Constitution, that incorporates large chunks of the Treaty of Oistins, also heavily depends on Magna Carta

Magna Carta put into law certain rights that we tend to take for granted today. Such as that no freeman can be punished, except through the law of the land. Of course, today the word “freeman” refers to all men and women. The actual clause, translated, reads:

“29. NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right.”

Lord Denning (generally considered by most jurists to be the finest ever jurist in the English-speaking world, described Magna Carta as “...the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot”. And Lord Wolff, from whose rules Barbados takes its Civil Procedure Rules, “...first of a series of instruments that now are recognised as having a special constitutional status”.

Out of Magna Carta comes such important pieces of legislation as Habeas Corpus Act (1679).  Of particular interest to us in Barbados is Clause 45, which says that the King “read the State” should only appoint as “justices, constables, sheriffs, or bailiffs” those who knew the law and would keep it well. A read of Tales from the Courts challenges if Barbados has decided to forego this requirement given some of the actors appointed.

Clause 38 stated that no-one could be put on trial based solely on the unsupported word of an official.  And then there is Clause 40 which has been quoted repeatedly by the CCJ in condemnation of Barbados’ judicial system. Clause 40 disallows the selling of justice, or its denial or delay. Clause 40 is specifically mirrored in the Barbados Constitution that judges swear, hand on Bible, to uphold.

London’s Daily Mail reports on the bringing together of the four surviving copies of MAGNA CARTA in celebration of its 800thbirthday. There are some truly wonderful photographs in the Mail’s report [BU’s emphasis].

The four surviving medieval copies of Magna Carta will be brought together for the first time in history in 2015.

The date is 800 years after the issue of the Charter by King John in 1215.

The unification will be held at the British Library for three days in early 2015 and will kick off a year of celebrations across the UK and the world.

The event is taking place in collaboration with Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral, where two original copies of Magna Carta are usually kept.

The other two copies are housed safely at the British Library.

It will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for researchers and the public to see all four documents side-by-side.

History buffs will be able to enter a ballot to win one of 1,215 free tickets to see the unified Medieval manuscripts.

The papers will be examined in the British Library’s Conservation Centre by some of the world’s leading experts on the documents.

Experts are currently undertaking a major research project on Magna Carta and the charters of King John, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

This unique opportunity will allow the historians involved to study faded or obscured parts of the text more closely and to look for new clues about the identity of the writers of the texts, which is currently unknown.

Magna Carta, meaning “The Great Charter”, was issued by King John of England as a practical solution to the political crisis he faced in 1215.  [BU’s NOTE: Could the current political crisis Barbados i.e. government and the court ignoring the principles of Magna Carta as enshrined in the Barbados Constitution be a fair comparison?]

Written in Latin on parchment, Magna Carta established for the first time that the king was subject to the law, rather than above it. [BU’s NOTE: The monarch was not above the law, in the Barbados context this applies to judges and politicians]

Although nearly a third of the text was dropped or substantially rewritten within ten years and almost all the clauses have been repealed in modern times. [BU’s NOTE: But the one requiring timely justice that cannot be bought, has NOT been repealed]

However, Magna Carta remains a cornerstone of the British Constitution and its principles are echoed in the US constitution and others around the world. [BU’s NOTE: Including the Barbados Constitution]

It has been used in many ways since the Middle Ages but it has become a potent, international rallying cry against the arbitrary use of power.

The British Library is staging an exhibition about the medieval charter.

Lincoln Cathedral is opening a Magna Carta centre in Lincoln Castle, while Sailsbury Cathedral will host educational and outreach events to celebrate the 800 year anniversary.

Claire Breay, Lead Curator of Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts at the British Library, says: ‘Magna Carta is the most popular item in the Library’s Treasures gallery, and is venerated around the world as marking the starting point for government under the law.

‘Bringing the four surviving manuscripts together for the first time will create a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for researchers and members of the public to see them in one place.’

The Dean of Salisbury, the Very Reverend June Osborne, said: ‘Magna Carta’s clauses on social justice are as relevant today as they were 800 years ago and are at the heart of all we aspire to.

‘We hope the publicity generated through the planned unification and 800th anniversary year will increase awareness of its importance, values, ideals and modern significance to a huge new audience.’

Richard Godden, a partner at Linklaters, a law firm that is supporting the reunification, said: ‘Magna Carter is a foundation stone of the Rule of Law and its influence extends around the world.

‘The arbitrary authority of the state is just as much a threat today as it was in the day of King John and the principles enshrined in Magna Carta remain essential not only in relation to personal liberty but to creating an environment in which business can prosper. We forget them at our peril.’

In 1957, the American Bar Association erected the Runnymede Memorial. In 1976, the UK lent one of four surviving originals of the 1215 Magna Carta to the U.S. for its bicentennial celebrations. The original was returned after one year, but a replica is still on display in the U.S. Capitol Crypt in Washington, D.C. One of four surviving originals of the 1297 Magna Carta is also on display in the U.S. National Archives.  BU is sure therefore that CJ Marston Gibson and  PM, one Freundel Stuart QC, has recourse to remove officers of the court who are underperforming.

Barbados’ judicial system has succeeded in doing what King John could not do, 800 years ago and has set the clock back 800 years, with successive Barbados prime ministers doing absolutely nothing to stop the judiciary plunging the country into judicial and economic chaos and, in many cases, personal (for litigants) hardship and despair.

Perhaps the best we can expect is that at vast expense to the taxpayers – although less than the Prime Minister’s jaunt to the Commonwealth Conference in Australia – a retreat for Barbados’ judges will now be planned to take place in London. The ostensible purpose of the retreat will be for our judges to study Magna Carta, from which the Constitution they have sworn to uphold is taken. When they return to Barbados having learned nothing for the massive outlay the taxpayers will have made, they can claim that Magna Carta is written in Latin and in the French of 1219 and they could not read it.

43 thoughts on “Unification of the Magna Carta: The Model for Constitutions in the English Speaking World

  1. It really is far more serious than the general public knows. The degree of incompetence mainly from members of the bench is, frankly, startling. There is also a degree of venality that ought to terrify the general public.

    In Barbados is not only NOT timely, but is very much up for sale.

    History and current events globally show that such a situation can easily lead to revolution. I am extremely worried by the state of the courts and something MUST be done. And the buck stops squarely at the doors of the PM and the CJ, both of whom are the only people who have the constutional authority to remove delinquent and unsatisfactory judges – which is 100% of the Bench all of whom have breached the Constitution. The PM also has the authority to remove the CJ. So the whip hand is with the PM and he had better use it and quickly.

    The situation is beyond crisis. But what alarms me most is the fact that the former justice administration still, to all intents and purposes, calls the shots through the incompetents it put in place. And the only way to end that starnglehold is by a full frontal attack and enough of this pussy-footing around. Fire them. Invoke the Constitution of which they are in substantial and repeated breach.

  2. @ David

    Well intentioned. However, the same people who developed the Magna Carta have reversed a lot of its provisions. They are well on their way to the re-establishment of serfdom, again. This is no accident. That hideous project is well advanced in the big countries we look to.

    • @Pacha

      We need to focus on the ideal of course there will always be the current realities to consider but it is a continuum no?

  3. Well intentioned? Yeah right! Much of it the usual garbage wrapped up in ‘let right be done’ – a strange irony. Has the writer of this got nothing better to do than spin jejeune tales – by which I mean fairy stories?

  4. @Ross

    When you get some time and or if you believe there is value in offering a coherent challenge to any thing posited feel free to post it.


  5. David

    There would be little point in trying since much of the post from this end is the usual ragbag of warped opinions wrapped up as truth.

    Does Amused suffer from insomnia? See his post at 3.18am. Is it a troubled conscience? Or is he already barricading his home to save himself when the revolution comes?

  6. “The ostensible purpose of the retreat will be for our judges to study Magna Carta, from which the Constitution they have sworn to uphold is taken. When they return to Barbados having learned nothing for the massive outlay the taxpayers will have made, they can claim that Magna Carta is written in Latin and in the French of 1219 and they could not read it.”

    David, you are taking the mickey, right? These judges would look really out of place in the UK and especially in that highly democratised legal system where crystal English is the jargon of the legal professionals who take that job title very seriously.

    What is the position regarding Barbados’ move to become a Republic in 2016, it’s 50th anniversary of Independence?
    It is highly felt in well informed circles the present Queen (assuming she remains in favour as God’s appointed) will soon be abdicating the throne to her “conventionally preferred” successor, (ceteris paribus).

    This well-informed speculation that HRH “Mam” will be soon stepping down as the Head of the “Firm” is based on her express desire to be the longest reigning monarch in British Royal history. That would take her up to any time after February 2016. The same year that little England would have become a fully grown up adult at the smart age of 50 and time to sever all Constitutional ties with her ‘retired’ mother Queenie.

    Would this country be still nursing at her saggy and dry breasts and still confer the title Queen’s Counsel (QC) on Queenie’s “legal” godchildren?
    Would the local legal fraternity carry on the tradition by replacing the “Q” with the “R” for Rex? Or would they be grown up enough to stand on their own CCJ feet and proudly say: ‘We are SC or SCC (Senior Caribbean Counsels, even the ‘old queen’ counsels, Shepherd and all)’?

  7. @Robert Ross
    Your comment has a veneer of your racist self. You are seeking to drag a perfectly good idea from David into the mire. Once who have achieved that you will then label all discussion as nonsense. This is the classic Bajan typology of racism. A avoidance of any truism.

  8. @Pachamama | July 17, 2013 at 9:19 AM | Very well said.

    I note also that there is some speculation as to my sleep habits or possible insomnia and the reasons behind the hours I keep. I suppose there are those who, having few (if any) customers/clients, can afford (time-wise) the luxury of “regular” hours and to speculate on why I and others like me, am not like them.

  9. @Pacha

    So long as BU continues to attack the legal structure which is collapsing under its own weight beneficiaries who continue to feed their greedy ‘guts’ will protest (obsfucate). Guess what, it will make no difference.

  10. David you are again, correct! And by extension these same forces will see the world come to an end before they give up even a modicum of their power as a collective action. We mean this literally.

  11. @Amused,

    You speak of firing a judge as if it that were as simple as laying off a non-unionised shop attendant. You should know that it is far more difficult than that!

  12. Pingback: Statement on the filing of the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom Senate Bill No. 53 | | Ace Finance News

  13. @ David

    You can’t even fire or transfer a headteacher easily in Bim. And the society is hampered by the general state of affairs. We don’t believe any one person or group should have so much power or rights that inhibit a much larger set of people from exercising their rights or power. Remember Gatherer. Others will know more about how the civil service mentality protects ‘shareholders’.

  14. Pacha

    I forgive you since YOU are institutionalized now too. You know absolutely nothing about me – and so YOU have no right to refer to me as a racist. Why do you? Because I don’t buy your thesis about Zimmerman? So everyone who disagrees with you is a racist? After what I’ve read from you lately I am quite happy for the world to judge you and so many others on here on that score. In fact, on the subject of race – naff off.

    What I object to is the way one person in this outfit of yours, followed by all the snarling lapdogs of a certain type, push the agenda of ‘hang our judges’. again and again. I won’t use the word ‘repeatedly’ since THAT is a word undercover David uses to describe the responses of the CCJ to our system. A year ago it was “The CCJ judges are coming here in August to teach our judges a thing or two”. Pure invention. LIES. Yes there is a case I quite agree – but NOT in the way it is pushed and pushed on here – as if to say there is NO judicial quality on our Bench of judges. Anyone who actually knows them and practises under them knows this is untrue. So the idea of “judicial and economic chaos” which will soon lead to revolution is pure distortion to serve a sensationalist agenda. It does a disservice to Barbados and those people who actually serve. Most on here don’t, never have, never will. Many live abroad . They have the power of their mouths – which I suppose makes them feel good – but no responsibility.

    There are things on this post which might usefully have been explored. One is the reference to Lord Denning and the assertion that he was the finest judge ever in the English speaking world. There were others equally as good who were also “bold spirits” and who indeed, in their day, fought to uphold the ‘right’ which Magna Charta recognizes. One is Coke, but there is also Holt and Mansfield. Yes, Denning was a fine judge. BUT remember this dear Pacha. Denning had no time for the gutter press pushing their hate agendas.. Remember also that Denning played his part in fashioning much of our modern Admin Law – the bedrock of which is the concept of ‘fairness’. And my point here and previously has been ”This is NOT ‘FAIR’. You ignore two fundamental principles. One is that there is a duty to hear the other side. And our judges simply cannot do that anymore than other judges can. The other is that no man is a judge in his own cause – but on here the David surrogate is counsel, judge, jury.” To give a contrary view is anathema, is courting trouble, cheap insults, and, as with you, leads to nonsense assertions about who is or is not a racist. Do you really miss the Inquisition so much?

    Your first post makes a valuable point but I’ll come back to that.

  15. BTW where is “the mouth of the SOUTH ‘ CASWELL;. He should be invited to this meeting. as always he would give all those in attendance ANOTHER VIEW ” of the Magna CARTA ! isn’t that so Caswell.

  16. David…of Shepherd

    You think you’ve scored a hit? I am on record somewhere (either here or on BFP) as saying that I felt Shepherd to be fully justified; that people in authority have no right to be tardy and so waste the time of busy people; that the CJ was himself talking through the wrong orifice when he said he would look into the matter and then act; and that as a people we are too deferential to authority anyway. Get the drift?

    My views on the Chief Justice have been posted on BU for at least 15 months – and, moreover, at a time when the old queen on behalf of BU was heavily sucking up to him in his inimitable way.

    In a recent post, a female judge was discussed. See also my comments there.


  17. @Jeff. Apologies for my delay in responding. I have been exceedingly busy and had little (if any) time for myself. I am well aware of the conditions for the dismissal of a judge contained in the Constitution. I posit that repeated breach of the Constitution is grounds for dismissal of the judge. BU has posted (within the last weeks) a list of those breaches. There is no shortage of grounds for the process of dismissal (and immediate suspension pending such dismissal) of each and every member of the Bench, including the justices of appeal. Since the mechanism is set out in the Constitution and the grounds are abundantly there, it requires only that the trigger be pulled by the two people who, under the Constitution, can pull it – the PM and/or the CJ.

    There is no hard and fast recipe for revolution. Usually what cases revolution is a situation or set of circumstances which has become intolerable. I am not sure of the tolerance level of the Bajan public. What I do know is that there is a crisis of epic proportions in the justice system. Prisoners on remand for inordinate periods of time without the trials that might (or not) clear them; civil litigants waiting years for their cases to be heard and then more years for the judges to give their decisions then more years for the Court of Appeal to hear and decide the appeals – and then a very short space of time for the CCJ to hear and render judgement, judgements that usually condemn the Barbados courts for sloth in the delivery of justice and also make the Barbados judges look like a bunch of kindergarten kids. Then, of course, there is the unjustifiable delay in probate of estates where, as a matter of course and law, the deceaseds’ assets are frozen pending probate. It used to take two to three months for probate to be granted – now it takes one to two YEARS, during which time the beneficiaries (who may also have been dependants of the deceased (and often are) have no means of support, except by borrowing against their expectancy at usurious rates of interest).

    The knock-on effect of this is that we, who have few natural resources and are extremely dependant on external sources, particularly tourism and off-shore investment, are seeing both eroded to a degree that spells extreme financial hardship for Barbados. Whereas in 2001 Barbados was a leader in off-shore investment, today it is an “also ran”. This is not because of any global financial situation. It is because of the epic mess in the justice system where investors (and their heirs) face having to wait for decades for cases involving their investments to be heard and determined. Thus, their investments are tied up in Barbados to their financial detriment and they did not put their money into Barbados so that a bunch of incompetent judges in a hopeless judicial system could prejudice that investment. And where the Constitution is breached with impunity by those judges, on the premise that neither the PM nor the CJ has the balls to do anything about it. Well, I hope that the PM and the CJ DO have the balls to do something serious about it quickly.

    If they do not, let there be no mistake – we have run out of money!!! We are no longer of any strategic importance whatsoever to the major players. They do not need us. Therefore, we have to court the off-shore investors and tourists. Otherwise they will find other friendlier ports for their holidays and in which to invest – ports that offer exactly what we offer, AND MORE!!!! AND CHEAPER!!!!! With a justice systems that WORK!!!!!

    The upshot will be that we will see our services eroded, our spending power reduced and our standard of living become a joke. Will that lead to revolution? I have no idea what it will take to pull the revolution trigger.

    What I DO know is that any prime minister or CJ that allows the judiciary to decline into the sort of epic chaos that the Barbados judiciary has descended into, is almost criminally responsible. For they have allowed and endorsed massive pain and suffering for the very people whose well-being and rights they are sworn to uphold – and they must and WILL be held accountable. No good trying to blame it on the judges when you have the right in law to get rid of those judges. If you permit them to carry on, then you have consented to their egregious breaches of the fundamental rights of the people as enshrined in Magna Carta, the Treaty of Oistins and THE CONSTITUTION OF BARBADOS!!!!


    By the way, Pachamama, my view is that the consistently greatest jurists of all time were Lords Denning and Scarman. Coke was Elizabethan/Jacobean. Brilliant and the author of major constitutional legislation, but very politicized. I will explain. He was Solicitor General, then Speaker of the House of Commons, then Attorney General and he prosecuted some high-profile cases like Robert Devereux (head chopped off), Sir Walter Raleigh (head also chopped off) and the Gunpowder Plot conspirators (hung, drawn and quartered). As a reward, he was made Chief Justice of the Common Pleas and subsequently of the Kings Bench. I suppose it was in imitation of Coke that Owen Arthur did the same for David Simmons – AG to CJ!!! The question now is can we look to David Simmons to complete the imitation of Coke who, once he was no longer on the judiciary, returned to Parliament? I sincerely hope not.

  18. Magna Carta @ if not using this as a guide of law, then what is Barbados using,? What are the Lawyers using?
    Oh he is my friend, We went to school together, that is to much for her? we can fool the people, We so far from England we can do what we like? vote for me so i can over tax you? delay till she dead? Man they dont know what going on , we can do as we like.
    We big ups and we all getting part of the sweet pie.how is your offshore account looking. ? Let get some more VAT.
    Law is what we say it is , not what the Bible or the King agree .
    But my man , this is Barbados the land of crooks.
    Thy Kingdom come ………

    • @Bush Tea

      Noam Chomsky Quotes

      Regarding Thought Control in a Democratic Society, Chomsky makes these points:

      1) Propaganda is to democracy what violence is to a dictatorship.

      2) Ordinary people have remarkable creativity.

      3) People have a fundamental need for creative work, which is not being met in systems where people are like cogs in a machine.

      4) What would make more sense as a way to govern is a form of rationalist-libertarian socialism — not one that increasingly functions without public input. Chomsky advocates a system where a community and its members run things in a democratic fashion and whose people do not function as some sort of wage slaves.

      5) People need to be able to detect forms of authority and coercion and challenge those that are not legitimate.

      6) The major form of authority that needs challenging is the system of private control over public resources.

      7) The First Amendment means that democracy requires free access to ideas and opinions.

      8) Democracy in America is not functioning in an ideal sense but more in the sense that Lippmann noted in Public Opinion (where a specialized class of about 20 percent of the people — but who are also a target of progaganda — manages democratic functioning) and, in effect, are under control of a power elite, who more or less own the institutions. The masses of people (80 percent) are marginalized, diverted and controlled by what he calls Necessary Illusions.

      9) Manufacturing consent is related to the understanding that indoctrination is the essence of propaganda. In a “democratic” society indoctrination occurs when the techniques of control of a propaganda model are imposed — which means imposing Necessary Illusions.

      Chomsky’s Propaganda Model says American media have “filters” — ownership, advertising, news makers, news shapers — which together emphasize institutional memory, limited debate and media content emphasizing the interests of those in control.


  19. @ Deeds on | July 18, 2013 at 3:38 AM |

    Right on!

    Indeed you have gone straight for the jugular of these crooks and liars.
    Keep your focus in that area exposing from top to bottom that list of any thieving incompetent untrustworthy parasites posing as lawyers and calling themselves “QCs”.

  20. Amused….of Coke

    There was no “reward” in being made Chief Justice of the King’s Bench.
    The switch from the Common Pleas to the KB was in fact a demotion because the post was far less lucrative and Coke was furious.

  21. @ David
    Think Chomsky would appreciate Bushie’s Cooperative form of government….? LOL

    Propaganda is only possible where there is ignorance or lack of transparency.
    Where there is transparency and common sense, it becomes education.

  22. Miller

    Fine. With Plantation, you have now turned it into a general attack on lawyers. Nothing new in that. Plantation feels particularly aggrieved, rightly or not who knows. I hope he’s not being used to further the agenda on here. BUT – I’ve no doubt we all have our beefs about lawyers. I certainly do. Perhaps you do too. What I was talking about, however, was judicial quality.

    We rend to forget that judges do not act in a vacuum. They rely on counsel to fashion what then becomes the bedrock of their judgments. Thus, in one of his books Denning refers to a bright young lawyer, Huw Laddie, later Laddie J (who retired from the Bench allegedly because he was ‘bored’), who argued for what became the so-called Anton Piller Order. But then lawyers themselves are not social engineers and their horizons do not extend beyond the winning of today’s case. In that sense, judges are what counsel make of them.

    And this for me is the worrying feature. With dramatically falling academic standards at UWI what sort of profession will it be in ten years time, and what sort of judges will it eventually spawn? And will they then be all female? In your sense, doubtless the same kind (if they haven’t died of starvation before then). But academically?

    Which brings me to Pacha’s first point. Though framed in very general terms he implies that we must not think that everything is perfect elsewhere. And I’m sure he’s right. UK has witnessed the same falling academic standards as here – so that at some point the mediocrity level is going to kick in. Mind, bringing the future to the present, I do not see the same level of quality in today’s UK judges as in my early years. Amused mentions Scarman and, given our respective ages, I’ve no doubt that we could all name our own favourites. Nor, having had some recent experience, do I see the UK legal system as particularly fair. Like legal systems and the legal profession everywhere, I suspect, it is miserably incestuous.

  23. @Ross

    And the length of time it takes the scales of justice to balance in Barbados? Where does this figure in your prism of quality?

  24. And read also my attempts, by invitation, to pinpoint particular causes of delay on BFP until one ‘AC’ miserably determined to disrupt the whole exercise by repeatedly silly interventions..

  25. @ robert ross | July 18, 2013 at 9:10 AM |

    I will give you reply analogous to the famous cliché “some of my best friends are black”- “Some of my best friends (and associates, even ‘lovers’) are lawyers”.

    The miller will not follow the advice of your spiritual hero and friend in “bad talking” condemning lawyers but would only say that too many of them are so woefully incompetent and indeed dishonest as to corrupt the entire legal fraternity and to spread like a dangerous virus into the justice system in Barbados.

    Until you guys raise the bar (pardon the pun) of your profession both in terms of productivity, quality of service and ethical commitment to your clients we are afraid that the likes of Deeds and indeed an insider like Amused would always have a willing ear with John Public whether justified or not.

    But I take your point about “lawyer profiling” similar to the tendency of racial profiling.

    One should not tar all Bajan lawyers with the same brush. But that is what you get when you have a situation where over 700 mouths of legal brains with a get rich quick mentality, with suspect training and misguided notions of their role and importance to society are chomping at the bit for a fast reducing pie of clients who can pay.

    BTW, when are you going to push for a system where many of the Home & Family Solicitor type matters of a non-contentious nature and pure form filling like writing and probating straightforward wills, drawing up standard contracts, writing simple letters of complaints and business related concerns and even divorces not involving property settlement and visitation rights can be processed and consummated by a so-called highly educated (to tertiary level) population boasting of being sophisticated, savvy and basically at home or skillfully behind the wheel on the highway in this modern world of information technology?

    Maybe your friend Jesus had more insight into the thinking and ‘strange’ behaviours of lawyers, whether trained or fireside or standpipe, when the following has been ascribed to him either true or false:
    “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.”

    What about hating the Sin (lawyer corrupt dealings) but loving the Sinner (lawyers) as brothers and sisters?
    But the miller will continue to be big fan of the parable of the Good Samaritan and would continue to view my legal friends and family members in that way. Forgiven 70 times seven!

  26. Miller

    Thankyou. In broad terms I agree with you entirely. But will reply later and give you some insight into so-called ‘Mackenzie friends’.

  27. robert ross@ Before one becomes a judge he /she was a lawyer?therefore a crook lawyer now becomes a good judge ? or a good Sir or QC?
    We never said all lawyers are crooks but 600 is a safe number in Barbados that are? if that is all the lawyers then so be it.
    Who knew? Who join,? who did or said nothing , is part of this poor and Poors and S&P down grade and lawful and legal standards in courts in Barbados,
    Seek to find how many people , who were tourist that not come back here to spend their hard earn money after being robbed by lawyers and Ministers in the House with titles those who were not lawyers backed up by lawyers.
    When DLP/ BLP cant and will not be charge by police for fraud only as a civil action ,
    None of them lawyer crooks in the house want an Audit ,
    none want freedom of information , FOI
    none want Integrity Legislation passed
    none tell the truth or we will not be in this mess
    Out side people must feel the wave of crime to report back to them .
    What comes from out side of Barbados is more important that what is said or done in side Barbados.
    ‘.iron clad’ is a movie and learn about the MAGNA CARTA , FROM THE ROOTS.

  28. Miller

    We know that Joe Public has never been happy with lawyers. I suppose they never will be. It all pre-dates the burning of the Temple by the mob and may, as you imply, be derived from Jesus’ perceptions of “scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites”. I am not aware that either in Rome or Greece such a perception existed. Yet the irony is that clients are deferential to lawyers when face to face – I suppose because they want something. The bad mouthing, the reality and the superstition comes later and so is always ‘out there’.

    Yes, you also have a point about the perception of the law as something which carries both dollar power and status but that, for me, is not what it’s about. For me, at any rate, though from a relatively humble background, it was never about money. I suppose it was, more than anything else, about the cut-and-thrust of argument (and a natural ‘mouthiness’ still recognizable) and defending people. Indeed, like Rumpole I could never have been a prosecutor. And, of course, pre-university we tend to think that ‘Law’ is only Criminal Law. We’ve never thought or knew anything beyond that.

    You meet so many young people pre-Law School. They are generally engaging and very natural. Many, even most, come back with the ‘I am Miss Lawyer’ image with all that that implies. It is a rather sad statement about the human condition. On the other hand, when so many in the region are from humble backgrounds it is natural I suppose to seek status and dollar power through the medium of the professions. Medicine is a case in point. At the same time, they are no longer ‘kids’ and so their apparent maturity is very natural. What saddens me about UWI is that the Law Faculty had a wonderful course called ‘Poverty Law’ which, amongst other things, offered a free legal aid and advice centre for the underprivileged. Some of our lawyers and yes I’ll mention them – people like Bobby Clarke, Kissoon the Elder, Olson Alleyne (now Alleyne J) offered support to the clients of the centre free of charge. That is why I cannot be a party to rubbishing the profession in the broad-brushstroke way done here on BU. And, of course, many outside of that do pro bono work. It’s worth mentioning that those attorneys who take on legal aid cases have to wait pretty long for their fees anyway and, of course, many clients are slippery when it comes to payment or fail to keep appointments or turn up for court hearings. It’s not all one-sided you see.

    The UWI course was dropped when its architect retired. Sadly, no-one was prompted to carry it on. Beckles has much to answer for both in respect of this, his totally phoney ‘graduate in every household’ policy, and his appointment as Dean of Law of someone who was totally unfitted for that position.

    We all know that the profession is way, way over-subscribed and, as I say above, standards have fallen. It was being talked about 12 years ago and has simply got worse. There is not the same volume of work around as there was and many young attorneys find it difficult enough to pay their $1500 a month rents. Most of the young people that I know are hard-working, totally dedicated and very much ‘client people’. Life will teach them to be cynical.

    You made the point once that we expect too much from our professionals, that we treat them as ‘gods’ whereas, despite all the fluff, they are just rather ordinary people mostly trying to do their incompetent best.

    On fees, I remember, I think, dear Amused saying once that QC’s charge upwards of $500 an hour. Does that sound a lot? Well, in UK it’s upwards of 500 pounds an hour for a QC and c300 pounds for a senior junior. Gee. Is anyone worth that much?

    Yes, there are shitty people in the profession. I can think of four QC’s who, from experience, I would put in that category. And then there’s all the rest all of them reflecting ‘life’ with all its engineered nonsense.

    On the issue of educated lay people offering services – fine. I have no problem with that at all. Will- making is an obvious possibility. It is routine in UK where, once upon a time, 30 pounds a will was all you’d pay. BUT given the volume of work around I don’t think it would be a serious possibility here (rather like ‘gay marriage’ – on which….I hope you’ve been following the correspondence in the Nation. There was a fine letter from Oscar Wildenhaus yesterday.). The profession – and that means government – simply would not buy it. I mentioned Mckenzie friends above. They are people who assist litigants in person mainly in matrimonial matters. I have been involved recently with a Criminal case in UK and you have no idea of the shoddy, duplicitous way the ‘friend’ has been treated by the profession, the presiding judge, the Criminal Appeal Office and the ‘single judge’ who determines whether an appeal should go forward. It hasn’t been tried here so far as I know. Perhaps it’s time to give it a whirl. But one cannot underestimate the problems or suppose that the elitism and delay we find here is any different, or very different, anywhere else – another reason why I refuse to take the ‘there’s gonna be a revolution’ stand.

    One last thing, dear Miller. You refer to my guru. Well yes, he is. But that doesn’t mean I regard everything which has followed him (note lower case) as authentic or acceptable. What passes for the Christian religion here, as in many other places, is the very opposite of everything he gave us – as the gay debate so vividly illustrates and, I would want to say, the Raul Garcia affair.

  29. @ robert ross | July 19, 2013 at 12:59 PM |

    Your ‘amicus’ brief is duly noted.
    Corrections and explanations taken on board.

    Saint Yves has been informed of your erudite dedication and sturdy defense of your oft maligned profession unfairly seen as scammers.
    A description more deserving of those glorified modern day ‘bush’ doctors in the role of quacks passing as specialists in Barbados demanding outrageously high fees from a generally poor population. Pity that many of these quacks and sawbones received their very costly education and further training at the expense of the same poor people who venerate them as gods, givers and takers of life.

    You mention Rumpole of the Old Bailey. What about Raymond Burr playing Perry Mason a “private” gay man of sharp intellect? Or were those cases to predictable to be realistically true. Pity there was no SWMBO!

  30. Miller

    Perry Mason – I nearly mentioned him. He was how I saw myself as wanna-be when I was, well…..well you know.

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