A few weeks ago Chief Justice Patterson Cheltenham revealed that after a ‘dig’ 70 matters were discovered lying idle in the court system. In other words, some lawyers are filing a notice of appeal and leaving the matter in abeyance without active follow up to activate the matter therefore adding to the burgeoning case load. When the matter is called by the Court of Appeal, according to the Chief Justice, the lawyer filing the notice is sometimes a no show and in many cases fail to also apprise lawyers representing the respondents.
Barbados Underground has been a strident voice over the years in the call for the Barbados court system to get its act together in order to deliver on the maxim – “justice delayed is justice denied”. Chief Justice Patterson Cheltenham was appointed from being active as a lawyer and should be aware of the gaming methods lawyers co-opt to frustrate the system. It is disappointing after all the years of criticism Cheltenham’s predecessors were unaware of the unethical practice by lawyers – legal officers of the Court – to file ‘empty’ notices of appeal.
Do we need to remind lawyers in Barbados that as legal officers of the Barbados Court they are saddled with the awesome responsibility of delivering quality justice? The inability of the court system to dispense justice has obvious implications for the quality of life in the society. To have to listen to the Attorney General and his predecessors express frustration with a court system about to crash under its weight is an embarrassment.
Kudos to the Chief Justice for identifying an issue to be solved. As usual what was left hanging is how lawyers engaged in depositing empty ‘matters’ in the court system will be disciplined. These lawyers are being dishonest and unethical in behaviour and should have to suffer disciplinary action. A part of the problem with rising crime and lawlessness in Barbados is the slow pace justice is administered, it also has implications for the international business sector to ensure speedy resolution to matters.
The blogmaster is aware the government has allocated monies to install additional judges. What good will come of it if key stakeholders in the system; lawyers deliberately frustrate efficiency by the court by clogging up the system with nuisance matters, are no shows, missing files at the Registry etc? It begs the question what motivates the behaviour. The blogmaster believes some lawyers see financial reward operating in an inefficient court system.
Barbadians at home and in the diaspora have reached the limit of understanding why year after year we have been unable to improve the justice system. A bit of advice to the government, Attorney General, Chief Justice, Registrar of the Court, Barbados Bar Association, Disciplinary Committee, lawyers, police – time to start adhering to the highest ethical standards you have sworn to uphold on behalf of the clients who PAY YOU. If we do not we ALL will have to live in the type of society that evolves.