Tariq Khan and Adreil Brathwaite

The Case of Michael Springer QC Versus the Barbados Bar Association

VATLast Friday, the case of Michael Springer QC versus Barbados Bar Association came on for hearing. BU now reports on what transpired.

Mr Springer QC has always been a member of the BA, but his payment of dues have been without VAT and accepted and receipts issued to Mr Springer by the BA. In 2015, Mr Springer tendered his payment by cheque to the BA, without VAT, which was presented for payment and paid into the BA. Approximately 6 months later, Mr Springer received a cheque from the BA purporting to be the refund of his fees on the basis that the BA could not accept his payment and membership without VAT. Mr Springer’s name has been removed from the BA’s list of members. Mr Springer served the BA with a pre-action protocol letter, advising that if they did not reverse their position, he would be commencing legal proceedings. As usual, at the start of this year, Mr Springer tendered his payment to the BA minus VAT, payment that the BA refused to accept. Mr Springer filed legal proceedings against the BA.

Mr Vernon Smith QC appeared for Mr Springer and Ms Cecily Chase QC appeared for the BA.

Mr Smith submitted to the Court that the BA had not filed a defence in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules and therefore did not have the right to make any submissions. Ms Chase advised the Court that this was due to a failure on her part and asked for indulgence and leave to file a defence and Mr Smith agreed to this and it was ordered that Ms Chase would be given latitude to file a defence.

Mr Smith asked for his costs of the appearance in any event. The Court ordered that the BA pay Mr Smith’s costs no later than this Thursday.

Mr Smith submitted that the BA had failed to produce to the Court and Mr Springer a resolution by two thirds of its membership authorising that the action be defended in accordance with the BA’s Rules, without which the BA lacks the authority to pay Mr Smith’s costs. The Court ordered that by this coming Thursday the BA must produce such a resolution.

BU has reported that Mr Smith himself has sued the BA on essentially the same subject matter and this case is pending. Mr Smith’s case also ties in to his action against Marston Gibson. Smith vs Gibson was adjourned to Monday 11 April and commences hearing on that date, provided the Registrar has set it down – and if she has not, she will have provided grounds for Mr Smith to bring proceedings against her and to make a formal complaint to the Prime Minister, as the scheduling of hearings is the province of Gibson as Chief Justice and a failure to set down an adjourned matter will be seen as an abuse of power, since Gibson is himself the defendant. It is further noted that Gibson has not filed a defence.

BU has not been able to obtain the latest copy of the Official Gazette. The Registrar has a statutory duty to advertise the names of all attorneys to whom practicing certificates have been issued. It will be recalled that last year the Registrar barely missed being sued in a class action by attorneys who opt either not to pay VAT on their BA dues, or simply not to be members of the BA, when the Registrar omitted their names from the list in the Official Gazette of names of attorneys to whom practicing certificates had been issued. So we now wait to see if the Registrar has carried out her statutory duty – or not.

It has been observed that Mr Barry Gale QC, who seems to have set this whole ball rolling when he was president of the BA, appears to be doing his best to distance himself from anything to do with the administration of the BA.

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89 Comments on “The Case of Michael Springer QC Versus the Barbados Bar Association”

  1. TheGazer April 11, 2016 at 2:43 PM #

    I just googled and found the the vat ranged from BDS $43.00 to $175.00.
    Is that what this fuss is all about;? You have to be kidding me…
    The cost of dinner for two at a restaurant. I must be missing something.


  2. Well Well & Consequences April 11, 2016 at 2:49 PM #

    I still can’t figure out why experienced lawyers/CJ/AG/Parliamentarians who legislate laws, cannot get this matter re payment/nonpayment of vat on attorneys fees….resolved.

    John…..not sure, but I think Madame Justice Mason retired, so it would not be her. There are not that many female justices so it’s easy to do the process of elimination.


  3. TheGazer April 11, 2016 at 3:01 PM #

    Is this why the courts are clogged. Large egos battling over trivial sums, so as to make a legal point.
    Judges need to carry a bullwhip under their robes. Use it once or twice and this nonsense done…..
    Sorry, but I don’t get it. Educate me.


  4. Well Well & Consequences April 11, 2016 at 3:16 PM #

    The Gazer…it’s the most idiotic and meaningless use, misuse and abuse of the court’s time and waste of taxpayer’s money I have ever come across…if I had my way, they would all be in a prison….in Mexico or South America, no easy prison time for them.


  5. John April 11, 2016 at 3:32 PM #

    The VAT is ridiculously small and the court is wasting its time trying to split copper wire!!

    Amused is trying to say he/she does not agree it is an abuse of process.

    These clowns should be thrown out of Court and perhaps into jail to let them have a little time to ponder on the crap they are doing.

    Imagine there are 10’s of thousands of Bajans who suffered at the hands of Clico and can’t get a resolution to their problem since 2008 or whenever because the court won’t give it to them.

    It is as my grandfather used to say, scandalous, ridicalus.

    I hope they end up suing the Government for damages for denying them their constitutional right to a speedy trial!!


  6. Bush Tea April 11, 2016 at 4:02 PM #

    @ TheGazer
    To Mr. Bush Tea…
    Have you experience a Damascene conversion? it seems to me as if your whacker has become blunted, lost it roar and making some ‘religious’ noises.”
    Has the words of Zoe found fertile ground in that mind of yours. Put aside that electric whacker and rev up the old gasoline whacker…..
    You will hardly hear bushie’s whacker making ‘religious’ noises….. But it DOES sing the praises of BBE continually. You may occasionally confuse the two tunes…
    EVERYTHING about this experience we call ‘life-on-earth’ carries the BBE- beat ….it is the whole raison d’êtres of life…

    Bushie’s ‘Damascene’ moment came MANY YEARS ago…and since then, NOTHING has been the same… all those other shiite topics that you hear Bushie on are just part of the side dishes of life…. The MAIN COURSE is the real gospel…

    By the way – it is a four stroke gasoline model with ‘ripping’ power and a vicious bark… Electric shiite!!?? …wid a whole lotta wires bout behind yuh?
    ha ha ha


  7. John April 11, 2016 at 4:33 PM #

    Who is the judge hearing this matter?


  8. John April 11, 2016 at 4:39 PM #

    Amused April 11, 2016 at 9:56 AM #

    @John. I have not appeared with Mr Smith in any cases before the CCJ.

    I know …. don’t think I said you did, show me where!!


  9. David April 11, 2016 at 6:34 PM #


    Relax, you have been posting long enough on BU to know we will support the anonymity some seek on BU, even you.


  10. John April 11, 2016 at 7:01 PM #

    How many cases has Mr. Smith been involved in before the CCJ?

    I know of 3, all of which he lost and one of which he was cited for abuse of process!!

    Not a very good record!


  11. Simple Simon April 11, 2016 at 10:46 PM #

    Back in the day theologians used to waste time arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin (N. B. That argument has not yet been resolved) instead of using their time to feed the hungry, heal the sick etc. but then came the Reformation…sorry I mean the revolution.

    Maybe we need another revolution…sorry I mean Reformation, this time of the legal system.


  12. John April 12, 2016 at 3:36 PM #

    I see the court demonstrated uncommon wisdom yesterday!!



  13. Well Well & Consequences April 12, 2016 at 3:55 PM #

    Oh, oh…I see SSS is asking about an investigation into the death of Marcelle Smith and Wade Gibbons chimes in……and Jeff….soooo, who is Jeff?


  14. Well Well & Consequences April 12, 2016 at 3:57 PM #

    BTW……let’s hope the adjournment continues for another 10 years, that is called, dose of own medicine..lol


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