Difficult Conversations – Correcting the Record
I spent the past year trying to get a legal request (or claim) through the Barbados court system. I had my final hearing before a Judge on 12 May 2021. It was an interesting experience that I will share, now that the case before the High Court has ended.
The day after the final hearing, I was contacted by some news outlets for my reaction to the Judge’s decision. I explained that in deference to the Attorney General of Barbados, I would prefer that he be given the opportunity to respond first. I would happily and willingly respond after that.
The press interviewed the Leader of the Opposition. Based on that interview, the press reported that my claim was dismissed, or thrown out. That is fake news.
The facts are that at the hearing, the judge clearly stated that the only request that she was going to grant was mine. Further, the only requests that the Judge explicitly dismissed, or threw out, were those made by the Leader of the Opposition, and the Attorney General.
I informed the press of these facts, and expected them to correct the news record. They have not. To ensure that there is an accurate historical record, I plan to write a few articles on the case. This first article addresses the first dismissal at the hearing – that of the Leader of the Opposition.
MAKING A CLAIM.
My claim was about getting the Supreme Court’s interpretation of a section of the Constitution of Barbados. The specific section is 74 (2), which describes the method that the Governor General should use when appointing a Leader of the Opposition.
Whenever a person wants to make a claim about the Constitution, the person that must defend that claim is the Attorney General. As the person who made the claim, I am called the Claimant. The Attorney General, who must defend the claim, is called the Defendant.
When making a claim, the claim documents must be filed at the Court’s Registry. Then a copy must be served on (or given to) the one listed as the Defendant. This I did on 10 July 2020.
Since the Governor General and the Leader of the Opposition had interests in this matter, I subsequently served (hand-delivered) copies of my filed claim to them. I also encouraged them to submit their interpretation of section 74 (2) of the Constitution, to the court.
A hearing before a judge was scheduled for 19 October 2020. On 16 October 2020, the Leader of the Opposition (through his attorney) filed an application to make a submission. During the hearing, the Judge explained that she was promoted to the Court of Appeal, and that another Judge would be assigned.
We had a hearing on the 3 February 2021 before the assigned Judge. The Leader of the Opposition asked to make a submission. The Judge gave him a deadline of 3 March 2020 to file his submission. The judge also gave the Attorney General and I, a deadline of 22 March 2021 to respond to the Leader of the Oppositions’ submission.
With the Leader of the Opposition’s submission out of the way, the Judge then gave the Attorney General and I a deadline of 12 April 2021, to file and exchange our submissions. A final hearing was then set for 12 May 2021 to resolve this matter.
The Leader of the Opposition not only missed his deadline, but he never filed a submission. During the final hearing on 12 May 2021, the Judge noted that he had not filed his submission. The Leader of the Opposition responded that he intended to ask for an adjournment.
The main role that the Leader of the Opposition played during the court case, was to waste everyone’s time. To her credit, the Judge dismissed the Leader of the Opposition’s intent – before he could frustrate the system any further.
A glaring problem with our Judicial system, is unconscionable delays by lawyers. If lawyers do not have the time to give a professional standard of service to each of their clients, then they probably have too many of them. They should stop taking more clients, and employ competent staff to share the load.
In my next article, I shall describe the dismissal of the Attorney General’s request.