Death of Lawyer Sparks Wrath!

The death of the Lovell family formerly of Breezy Hill, St. Philip continues to be a talking point. The event as reported is unusual for Barbados not accustomed to a family that included young children perishing in questionable circumstances. The blogmaster will resist speculating about how the event occurred.

However, it is interesting to note one of the deceased persons was lawyer Allison Alexander-Lovell who was sanctioned by the Disciplinary Committee for withholding $160,000 of client’s monies in 2016. It is reported she was due to reappear in Court this week on the matter.

The blogmaster as a human being joins the majority of Barbadians who are sorry the Lovell family met untimely deaths. However, it has not gone unnoticed the ire many Barbadians have taken the opportunity to direct at lawyers. For many years lawyers have been known to sit on clients funds and important legal documents for unreasonably lengthy periods; sometimes for always without fear of being sanctioned by the Barbados Bar Association and Disciplinary Committee. 

The fact that successive governments have been composed of members of the legal profession has stoked public cynicism that this is a profession that is about preserving the establishment and the way it does business at any cost. The blogmaster has cited too many examples since its inception in 2006. One of the more blatant examples is a sitting Speaker of the House Michael Carrington who had to be ordered by the high court to surrender monies to a septuagenarian former client without having to step down from serving as Speaker of the House of Assembly AND with the blessing of then prime minister Freundel Stuart. You cannot make this stuff up.

Members of the legal profession in Barbados should be aware of what is referred to as the ‘tipping point’ – ‘defined as the point at which a series of small changes or incidents become significant enough to cause a larger, more important change’. Let it not be stated this blogmaster is stoking ‘insurrection’ against the legal fraternity, the blogmaster has friends and family who are members. Notwithstanding the affinity, rising anti-lawyer sentiment in the country is real and will not take many more changes to set the cat amongst the pigeons. 

We are living in harsh economic times, citizens will not continue to be docile while access to money and property are withheld from them by greedy, corrupt lawyers. The time has long past for the Barbados Bar Association and Disciplinary Committee to switch from PR mode to one of policing its members in the interest of the public it serves. There is also a role for government as policy maker to protect the public it swore to serve.

Here Ye Hear Ye – Barbados Bar Association Proposes to Increase Fees at Special General Meeting!

Rosalind Millar, President of the BBA
Rosalind Millar, President of the BBA

Pursuant to Rule 11 of the Rules of the Barbados Bar Association NOTICE is hereby given of a SPECIAL GENERAL MEETING of the Barbados Bar Association to be held on Friday 1st July 2022 at 3:00 PM  Via Zoom. The main agenda item is “Scale of Fees”.


1.            Welcome and establishment of quorum.

2.            To consider and adopt the Report of the Costs Fees Committee for the amendment of the Legal Profession (Attorneys-at-Law) Contentious Business Rules

3.            To approve the submission of the said Report and new draft Rules to the Rules Committee of the Supreme Court for consideration and approval pursuant to Section 35 of the Legal Profession Act, Cap. 370A of the Laws of Barbados.

NOTE: The Report and the relevant proposed resolutions are attached.

Dated the 20th day of June 2022

By order of the Council

Raquel R. Gilkes

Hon. Secretary

Wren Herbert – Lawyers Continue to Abuse the Public with Abandon

Concern has been perennially expressed about the distress members of the legal fraternity visit on the lives of citizens of Barbados. Although the Barbados Bar Association (BBA) and the Disciplinary Committee have grounding in law to discipline the profession, there is little evidence lawyers who run afoul of the laws are satisfactorily sanctioned.

We are a nation of laws enacted to protect the rights of citizens from those willing to abuse said laws. It therefore goes without saying we need lawyers to represent us to ensure equity based system design. What we need to get right is to implement a framework where actors in the legal system can be held accountable.

The following paints another sad tale of a man, WREN HERBERT, from West Terrace who took advantage of a situation and to date despite the best effort of the person abused (AV), WREN HERBERT has gone unpunished. This is despite communications to the BBA. From the blogmaster’s research Wren Herbert appears not to be a practicing attorney at this time, he was. He is the brother of the infamous Caroline Herbert.

See report received via COMPLAINTS ——> LAWYERS.

Submitted by AV

Unethical and Dishonest Conduct-Wren Herbert Attorney-at-Law

I am aware that nothing will result from the following which I am outlining, concerning Wren Herbert. However, for the record, I still wish to detail an issue of integrity which should remain extremely concerning for any country when significant numbers of its lawyers fail to act with integrity and trustworthiness. These lawyers elude accountability because of the structures which fail to recognize that it is essential and important for lawyers to be honest and behave lawfully.

It is possible that Wren Herbert may already have been removed from the Bar Association. I was unable to gain information on this because it is extremely painful on soliciting information from any governmental or official body in Barbados when overseas, even emails go unanswered; one encounters a ‘brick wall experience.’

This ‘brick wall’ is all constructed on the basis of, the ‘judging’ of the individual who is seeking the information; drawing conclusions about the individual’s perceived circumstances and actions, a very ‘subjective’ stance is adopted. This ‘judging’ is then evident in non-responses or lack of desired actions from the governmental body the information is being solicited from. Rather than acting as a professional public body should, the actions of governmental and public bodies’ non-responding and non-action, are personally rooted and can inadvertently support the unlawful conduct of lawyers, totally concealing their actions or lack thereof.

Concomitant to this, the country’s development in terms of justice, is hindered and in the eyes of the world, it comes to be seen as corrupt; all engineered by systems that are links in the chain which strengthen unfair and underhanded practices by lawyers.

Outline of Issue

  1. On emigrating from Barbados, I left as a vulnerable, broken divorcee in search of a new life. I had a NEW Green Toyota Tercel, acquired through a vehicle loan from a Government Ministry. The vehicle was just under one year old.
  2. As a lawyer, and a named friend, I asked Wren Herbert to act on my behalf, to return the vehicle to the Ministry as when I left, I was unsure as to whether I would indeed stay in the new position which I was offered; hence not returning it immediately upon my departure, in the event, that I returned.
  3. When I was confident that I was not returning, less than a month later, Wren Herbert stated that rather than return the vehicle, that he wanted to acquire it and he would therefore take possession of the vehicle and repay the outstanding loan amount to the Ministry.
  4. Wren Herbert, did indeed collect the car from my then home.
  5. A friend, who was staying there at the time, handed Wren Herbert the keys and all the particulars of the vehicle and its loan documentation; undoubtedly, Wren Herbert took the car and rang me to confirm that he did have the vehicle.
  6. The witness is willing to provide a statement to verify that Wren Herbert did indeed take the vehicle from my home and many people, I am sure would have seen him with the green Toyota Tercel, car.
  7. Subsequently, I made several attempts to ascertain the status of Wren Herbert’s undertaking i.e., payments to the Ministry; no response ever came back to me from the Ministry, I was being ignored. Overseas telephone calls were a waste of time and money as I was put on hold, disconnected, passed to unhelpful individuals and overall I was placed on a GNVQ course of, ‘going nowhere very quickly.’
  8. I sought confirmation from Wren Herbert and indeed several more times from the Ministry of Education but got no response from either party. This went on for some time, until I finally gave up since although I felt uneasy about the situation, I still did not believe that as a lawyer who was then working for the Hewitt Law firm, that he would be that dishonest.
  9. During 2021, and as it is the entitlement of the governmental bodies in Barbados to disregard enquiries, after an entire year of battling to receive my Barbados work pension, I was forced to enlist the services of a solicitor to secure responses to my requests for information on my pension application from the Ministry concerned. I was told that some people have to wait years not just one year; is this what is to be expected and accepted?
  10. However, after this year long battle and scars of paying a solicitor to indeed receive my pension from the Barbados Ministry, I was startled to learn that on receipt of my pension award from the Barbados government, that Wren Herbert had kept the vehicle or sold it and had NOT repaid the vehicle loan; therefore, the outstanding amount had been taken from my retirement pension.
  11. That outstanding amount which has been taken is $29,166.62, which Wren Herbert owes to me; this clearly is not the way a lawyer should act.
  12. I engaged a Barbados Law firm which has written to Wren Herbert in respect to this and Wren Herbert has ignored the correspondence but I shall not give in.

• Finally, as stated in the above description of this issue, public office holders and other official bodies in Barbados, more often than not, fail to respond to any issues or complaints; this supports the unscrupulous lawyers.

• Throughout this scenario, judging people and situations, cause public office holders to renege on carrying out their duties effectively i.e., never responding to letters or calls concerning providing information which you are entitled to.

• Consequently, situations escalate unnecessarily, victims are further damaged and lawyer misconduct grows, casting a dark shadow on the overall ethical position of the country.

• I should like to mention that Dale Marshall did respond to my letter, stating that this was more a ‘personal matter;’ I however beg to differ.

• As a lawyer, Wren Herbert cannot separate his personal ethics or lack thereof, from his professional ethics and conduct.

• Wren Herbert was acting professionally when he undertook the agreement to either return the vehicle or repay the loan.

• Who else has been damaged by Wren Herbert as lawyer?

Ernest Jackman: WHO ARE YOU?

Submitted by Sunshine Sunny Shine










Ernest Jackman must account for the 2.4 million he withhold from the late Stephen Archer. The Barbados Government should offer assistance in this matter. All others such as the Bar Association, the Utility Company, the Family of Stephen Archer and any others with connections to this case needs to be CALLED TO ACCOUNT!


Click image!

Open Letter to ALL Rh Lawyers on behalf of Stephen Archer

The Barbados Today Editorial of September 26, 2019 reproduced here by request.

Several of these so-called traditional media outlets scrape stories from various social media sites without giving credit, for this reason the blogmaster reluctantly post this editorial.

For years Barbados Underground has been highlighting the ‘malbehaviour’ of lawyers and the dysfunctional justice system – see BU Lawyers in the News Section at the top of the page. In fact when we started the probing of the justice system many condemned this blogmaster as being unpatriotic. Our persistent criticism was interpreted as being negative. This blogmaster has lived to hear Chief Justice Marson Gibson and the Caribbean Court of Appear echo the same views.

Where is the moribund Barbados Bar Association (BBA)?

The name Stephen Archer might mean very little to those outside the circle of any close friends and family members he might have had. But his is a case that cries out for justice. This is yet another situation of an average Barbadian citizen being adversely affected by the type of dubious conduct that can accompany the vulnerable even to the grave.

Tomorrow morning Archer will be laid to rest in the churchyard of St Stephen’s Anglican Church just five months after publicly highlighting the tragic circumstances that befell him. He also drew attention to the representation – or lack thereof – of a well-known Barbadian attorney-at-law. Fifteen days after Archer celebrated his 30th birthday in 1997, a telephone pole fell on him occasioning him significant bodily injury.

Archer was taken to the United States to undergo treatment and physical therapy. While living in Miami, Florida, and now a paraplegic, he became homeless. His leg became infected as a result of his living circumstances and it was later amputated. He subsequently returned to Barbados and an initial hospital visit eventually turned into a four and a half-year residency at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. After leaving the hospital the bed-ridden Archer became a resident at Cyralene Senior Citizens Nursing Home at Accommodation Road, Spooners Hill, St Michael.

The utility company fulfilled its legal obligations to Archer and according to him paid a seven-figure compensation settlement to his attorney-at-law on his behalf. However, Archer revealed to Barbados TODAY in April that he was never given a cheque with his money nor was it ever deposited on his personal account. Despite the small fortune that his unfortunate accident had brought to him, Archer explained then that he still owed the nursing home $20 000 for eight months stay at the facility. He said the lawyer was handling his finances but had not paid any money to the home. “When I came here (nursing home), the idea was to save money to help my sister and fix the house in Cave Hill, but it backfired when the lawyer reduced how much I am getting so I ended up staying here a lot longer than I expected,” Archer revealed then.

Archer’s unfortunate situation was exacerbated as a result of his sister – who had been his main helper – dying in February from cancer. His mother who had initially been his principal caregiver had died from a stroke in 2009 while they were still in the United States. His was a life with little family support. He explained the mental and physical difficulty of being reduced from an independent, active, outgoing individual to one living in solitude and confinement in a bed with the occasional allowance out of his money coming from the lawyer.

With hundreds of thousands of his dollars sitting in the bank account of his lawyer, Archer was later reduced to starting a Help Stephen Archer Facebook page and the launch of a “gofundme” account. During his stay in the nursing home his three-bedroom, one bathroom family house at Well Gap, Cave Hill, St Michael was rendered an empty shell by burglars. Despite facing such immense personal hardship, a still optimistic Archer stated in April: “I am not worried, this is Barbados. In the States, I was homeless, in a wheelchair with maggots on me, but here in Barbados a lot of people know me so hopefully, it is not going to come to that. I have nothing to lose. When you are down the only direction to go is up. So I am waiting.”

Archer’s wait is now over. His direction did not take the upward curve he desired. But there are many questions left unanswered. And who will seek to have them answered? Archer had no children. Chief among those questions: Where is his money? Does his attorney-at-law still have the substantial amount on his own personal bank account? If he does, will he make any attempt to pass it on to existing family members, irrespective of how close or far removed they might be? Why did he not hand over all of Archer’s money when he received it or have it placed on his client’s personal account? Why were payments not made to Cyralene’s Senior Citizens Nursing Home in a proper manner? Does the Barbados Bar Association have any authority – or inclination – to launch an investigation into this matter? Is there any other agency willing to pursue this case? Will this be simply another case of a Barbadian lawyer benefiting from the funds of a client?

Perhaps it is time that in matters such as these, plaintiffs have greater oversight on the actual transaction between the defendant and legal counsel where compensation is due to be paid. Why are cheques written in the name of lawyers and not the clients they represent? Developments in Barbados’ courts over the years would suggest that not writing the plaintiffs’ cheques in the names of their lawyers might be protecting many from themselves.

Of course, none of this is going to help Stephen Archer now. But perhaps some of the mourners who pay their last respects to him tomorrow will ensure they are guarded against such anguish if similar tragedy should ever befall them.


Open Complaint Letter to Attorney General Dale Marshall and Chief Justice Marson Gibson About Attorney-at-law Peta-Gay Lee-Brace

Here is complaint received about yet another lawyer from an ordinary Barbados. From the supporting documentation this matter has been outstanding for close to a decade- if we start counting from 2011- when a letter to the Disciplinary Committee was lodged. Note this matter was highlighted on a BU in April, 2015.

See documents repeated via the File Complaints Against Lawyers —–> HERE initiative.

File Complaints Against Lawyers —–> HERE

There is one nettlesome complaint which keeps surfacing from Barbadians at home or abroad. It is always about lawyers wantonly violating standards of conduct as perceived in the court of public opinion and the ‘system’ repeatedly fail to redress.

These lawyers reallocate client’s monies, delay simple transactions to the detriment of clients financially, emotionally, illegally and otherwise. The result is that the reputation of the profession has been injured.

To heap on the issue for complainants is the inability of the Barbados Bar Association (BBA) and the Disciplinary Committee (DC) to discharge its mandate to satisfactorily treat with complaints submitted by general public.

The purpose of this update is to invite members of the public – through a simple process – to highlight matters submitted to the BBA or DC. In turn the blogmaster will track and highlight submissions in this medium and other social media platforms to ensure tension is exerted. The expectation is that parties named will see the benefit of resolving matters and be true to their moral and legal mandates.

This is a pilot project. Response from the public will determine next steps.

The blogmaster gives credit to PUDRYR for his input which led to the creation of this initiative.

Barbadians Cry Out as Barbados Bar Association Continues to Protect Crooked Lawyers and Dysfunctional System

Liesel Weekes

On many occasions in which clients have brought disciplinary proceedings against their attorneys for misappropriating or unduly withholding their funds, once the funds have been repaid the client is no longer interested in pursuing the matter at the disciplinary committee – .Liesel Weekes, President of the BAR

The President of the Barbados Bar Association (BBA) Liesel Weekes delivered from legalese text last week an insensitive rebuttal to the public. It is no secret lawyers have withheld client funds, misappropriated client funds, ‘misplaced’ important documents, been unresponsive and unprofessional. Weekes found the time to steadfastly defend her Association as any lawyer is trained to do.

She stated that unless members of the public presented evidence the ‘talk’ about lawyers being crooked is not sufficient to discipline the lawyer being accused. What Weekes and her predecessors have failed to do is update the public on the following just to name a few items:

  • The date complaint was received and responded to by the Barbados Bar Association/Disciplinary Committee
  • The number of complaints received and the number actioned by the BBA/Disciplinary Association
  • Give a listing of the nature of the charges contained in the complaints received by the BBA/Disciplinary Committee
  • How many complaints were not followed by the BBA/Disciplinary Committee because accused lawyers frustrated the process
  • Provide an Ageing Report’ of complaints outstanding with the BBA/Disciplinary Committee

No we do not accept that as President of the BBA Ms. Weekes has no idea the status of complaints lodged with the Disciplinary Committee. A commonsense approach would have been to have the Chairperson of the Disciplinary Committee append to the statement issued by Weekes.

Barbados Underground over the years has posted many blogs to highlight a dysfunctional court system including the ancillary services. The blogmaster is aware the BBA and Disciplinary Committee have not been given the resources to provide a quality service to the public. In fact one would deem it a nobrainer given the volume of complaints about the legal system from the public at home and abroad that successive governments would have addressed the matter. One is therefore left to assume tthe obvious.

At the town hall meetings in Canada recently Prime Minister Mia Mottley – a lawyer- admitted that the justice system is failing those who are forced to seek justice. A Barbadian in the diaspora also shared an experience with David Ellis last week where he travelled from overseas to attend a hearing in Barbados and he was not notified that the lawyer defending the matter would have been unavailable.

Over the years the blogmaster has observed some of our ‘best’ lawyers elected to the role of President of the BBA or appointed  to Chair the Disciplinary Committee. However,  service to the general public has not improved. Despite many of our ‘best’ lawyers having been elevated to become members of parliament and ministers of government where they have the opportunity to influence policymaking.

In the same way the BBA is always quick to comment on legislation harmful to the power brokers, why not recommend a change to the law that would permit the Crown to prosecute lawyers accused of stealing clients funds when there is evidence monies were repaid? The practice of lawyers repaying monies to clients on condition they do not prosecute is immoral and continues to compromise the justice system. Michael Carrington the former Speaker of the House is a good example.

To the lawyers that are members of the government- enough is enough!

Relevant links:

Tales from the Courts

Barbados Bar Association Not Helping Ordinary Barbadians

The blogmaster has been observing more and more cases of ‘ordinary’ Barbadians seeking justice for inequities meted out to them with the system failing them when they attempt to seek redress. Whether it is the Office of Public Counsel, FTC, FSC, Ombudsman and the others.

In the case of the Justin and Brunetta McIntosh CV1399/2008 matter this is another example – this time – it is the Barbados Bar Association.

The BU family would have read about the plight of the McIntoshes in the BU blog posted in July of 2013.

Not a surprise to the blogmaster, we have had to return to the matter last week:

For the avoidance of doubt to address if the plaintiffs in this matter exhausted the recommended channel (s). See response from the Barbados Bar Association.


When the McIntoshes received the Bill of Cost from attorney Bernadette Callender with 7 days to pay, They referred the matter to the then acting Registrar to solicit advice. After discussing the matter with them, the Registrar telephoned Bernadette Callender in the presence of the plaintiffs.

In summary: Bernadette Callender said if the McIntoshes withdrew the decision to dismiss her as the standing attorney, she would continue the case. Because the McIntoshes wanted to see the matter completed, they agreed.

However, after the new Registrar’s Conveyance was put in place and signed off by the McIntoshes, they received word from Bernadette Callender that she will not be going any further with the case.

The blog of last week highlighted that Bernadette Callender  continues to holds the McIntoshes’ file until she is paid.

Negotiations were made with her to receive money from CIBC FCIB for her services in connection with the foreclosure suit. After the sale of the property, she would be paid monies due after the taxation matter. She consented and promised the standing attorney she would make copies of the files and turn over the originals. The McIntoshes gave consent and she was paid for her services where the foreclosure is concerned. She delivered the conveyance to CIBC FCIB. After that Callender insisted on full payment and advised that she would file for taxation, explaining, that she would be the best person to file because she was the attorney that dealt with the suit.

The blogmaster was advised since 2015 Bernadette Callender mentioned filing for taxation but it was never done.

Bernadette Callender take notice – BARBADOS UNDERGROUND will continue to recycle this matter until there is resolution. The longer it remains outstanding the more familiar Google and other Internet search engines will be made familiar with YOUR name and deed.


Fee Setting by Legal Profession and other Associations Left Unchecked by Successive Governments

The following was posted to the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) website in July 2008. It is not necessary for the blogmaster to cover the below with comments except to say, ‘we not ready’.

See FTC recommendations on page 26 of the document embedded.

In 2007, the Commission began a follow-up inquiry into fee setting in the professions focusing especially on the schedule of legal fees for non-contentious matters.

The Commission had previously found that mandatory fees set by professional associations were in breach of the Fair Competition Act. However it stopped short of making the same finding in regard to non-contentious fees because they were set in statute. The Commission however determined that the schedule of legal fees for attorneys at law, represented a conflict with the principles of fair and open competition as advocated in the Fair Competition Act.

The Commission therefore has formally recommended that an amendment be made to the Legal Profession Act 1997, so that the fees charged for non-contentious matters can be recognised as being provided for reference only, and attorneys wishing to charge above or below these fees, being able to do so without reprisal.

This will resolve the conflict between the two statutes, and should allow for some competition in the legal profession.

See Fee Setting in the Professions II:  Follow-up Report. [pdf]

Closed July 2008

Justice Pamela Beckles Rules COMPULSORY Membership in the Barbados Bar Association is Unconstitutional

Justice Pamela Beckles recently ruled in a matter brought by former Bar president Tariq Khan versus Vonda Pile that compulsory membership in the Barbados Bar Association is unconstitutional. The Bar Association has signaled that the matter will be appealed. The following Barbados Underground blog which highlighted the matter was posted in April of 2013.

Non Membership in the Barbados Bar Association Does Not Preclude a Lawyer’s Right to Practice Law

Marston Gibson, Chief Justice (l) Andrew Pilgrim, President of Barbados Bar Association

Marston Gibson, Chief Justice(l) Andrew Pilgrim, President of Barbados Bar Association

BU has been provided with a copy of the letter dated April 4, 2013 by which the Chief Justice finally advised the new Queens Counsel that he had received the Letters Patent that the GG had executed and sent to the CJ some weeks previously, instructing that they be delivered. The GG had also officially informed the new Queens Counsel himself of their appointment, from which time they had the right to put the letters QC after their names. Do not expect Chief Justice Gibson to offer an explanation for the delay.

BU has also been provided with a legal opinion on the matter of mandatory membership of the Barbados Bar Association, on which it has been argued, in essence, that there is a requirement that attorneys who are certified to practice law in Barbados must also be members of the Barbados Bar Association. BU’s legal opinion states that, as such an Act breaches the Constitution, it is a nullity ab initio, as indeed is any law which breaches the Constitution. Otherwise, the Constitution, which requires a two third majority of the House to change it, would be held hostage to the much lower standard of a simple act of parliament, which requires merely a majority. This would compromise the rights of Bajans and infringe their liberties. Pursued, it could also potentially lead away from democracy to dictatorship.

Thus, the list produced recently by the Bar Association of those counsel who have not paid their membership fees, is not relevant to right to practice law. As long as those attorneys have certification (and a complete list is available from the Official Gazette updated yearly) those attorneys have the right to practice that cannot be gainsaid by the Bar Association.

The Bar Association list has been generally interpreted and presented in the Fourth Estate and the blogs as being a denial of rights to practice by those attorneys and BU posts this clarification. The suggestion or implication that these attorneys, provided they have current practice certificates, are not eligible to practice law is potentially legally actionable.

BAR and BLP Politics

“Can you please make public these two articles in the interest of all Barbadians” – Mark Jones

The Barbados Bar Association has been recently getting itself involved in a number of matters that have caused us to question whether it has now become an official arm of the BLP!

It is significant that the past president Wilfred Abrahams whose election to office as a junior lawyer was orchestrated by former BLP Attorney General and Chief Justice David Simmons and and the present president, another junior lawyer Lissel Weekes are colleagues in the same law chambers and the Association under their leadership has shown a recent eagerness to mount challenges to legislation passed in our Parliament. The matter of the registration of non Barbadians by the Electoral Department has come up before the law courts for determination and the matter has ended up before the Court of Appeal where the decision has been reserved; in the language of the law the matter is SUB JUDICE.

But to the amazement of many Abrahams along with his political allies from the Bar convened a press conference at  no less a place than the headquarters of the Association in Perry Gap to discuss the matter contrary to all the conventions of the legal profession. It was significant that in a story appearing in one of the newspapers where he and his colleagues were photographed at their conference he was quick to point out that the event was not political; one wonders if a question leading to that response was posed by the press.

However, it must be a cause for concern that the Bar Association’s facilities could be used by a politician to mount an exercise that is against the very practice which the Bar should be promoting,  refraining from entering into public discussion in matters which are before the law courts. The general membership of the Bar should therefore be calling on its president and executive to give an account of this willful break from a tradition that has been respected by members of the legal profession all these years. In addition the executive must be called upon to respond to the concern of many among the profession, namely that Abrahams with the concurrence of his associate has been dragging the Association into the realm of party politics in this country.

It is also noticeable, that like the BLP, the Bar Association has not lifted its voice in concern of the problems that have been plaguing its members in their day to day experiencing in that work building because of its faulty structure and general lack of facilities that go to make the practice of law comfortable in any court.

The Bar Association has certainly lost is way and its membership should be duly concerned.


A notable feature of the Supreme Court building fiasco is the conspicuous absence of ANY comment from the opposition BLP or its leader on the matter.

This is significant because the BLP never lets slip an opportunity to expose the alleged ineptitude of the DLP Government in maintaining its buildings and other projects even though they were conceived and built before they took office.

One glaring example is the South Coast Sewage Treatment Plant which had the BLP wallowing in the sewage in order to criticise the Government for its lack of adequate maintenance.

Of course recent disclosures have led to the conclusion that sabotage has been one of the main reasons for the the problems of the   plant after all kinds of foreign objects that cannot be flushed by any known toilet or sink or drain were used to sabotage the system.

The items range from sheets and pillow cases, to beach towels and concrete both in the poured form and concrete the block form.

All of these items are still being being plucked from the system.

Barbadians should therefore be made aware why there has been such a marked silence about the matter at the Supreme Court of Barbados.

The facts are as follows.

It was planned and built under the tenure of Mia Mottley as the Attorney General ( even though she does not own a LEC ) and her cousin David Simmons Attorney General and later Chief Justice of Barbados.

And you would not believe it that the project manager was one Arnold McIntyre the Godfather of David Simmons’ son to whom the whopping salary of Bds $ 40,000.00 per month was paid to manage a project that has all the faults we have been hearing complaints being made about.

If this is not nepotism and downright CORRUPTION at the highest level we don’t know what is.

Simmons has been having a very loud voice in public affairs recently!! maybe he can speak out on the involvement of his cousin Mia Mottley and friend McIntyre in the disaster at White Park Road for which the burdened tax payers now have the responsibility to put right.

Let him speak up on this matter ! let the opposition also speak up.

The public is eagerly awaiting to hear from them.

Was the Tax Clearance Certificate Brouhaha Necessary?

The brouhaha surrounding the requirement by the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) to request a tax clearance certificate as part of closing a property transaction seems to have gone the way of the day 7-day news cycle. The issue was brought to a head when the Barbados Bankers Association flexed its not too considerable influence by taking a decision to suspend the processing of ALL loans involving the transfer of property. It should be noted that three of the banks in Barbados are Canada based and the other two Trinidad.

The decision by the Barbados Bankers Association triggered a torrent of of public commentary. The government spokes-persons led by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler took careful aim at those critical of the decision to amend the Barbados Revenue Act. To quote Sinckler, “It is rather unfortunate that some banks and some lawyers in Barbados are hell-bent on frustrating government’s legitimate attempts to collect the tax revenue that is due to the state by their clients”. The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) shared the view that “the Act would cause total and complete chaos in the lives of citizens and businesses conducting ordinarily routine transaction”. The Barbados Bankers Association to support its decision indicated that there was “a lack of clarity on the process that are required in order to comply with the Act. As such commercial banks have been experiencing significant delays in disbursement of mortgages and other credit facilities that require security over real estate…”.

Of interest to BU is the position taken by the Barbados Bar Association (BBA).

All issues debated in Barbados these days are expected to take a predictable turn and with a general election on the horizon the political rhetoric has been cranking up. It is one of the peeves of the BU household that a society which claims to be well educated is always inclined to distil issues through a political lense. Maybe we are not that educated after all.

The Barbados Bar Association was very clear in its review of the amendment to the BRA Act i.e. that the requirement to seek a tax clearance certificate labels debts owned to the government as first charge on land. The uncertainty comes whether the amendment addresses the potential for challenge as it relates to the transfer of land. The general public is not expected to appreciate that there are four Acts affecting this issue; Excise Tax, Income Tax, Land Tax and VAT Act. The BBA’s opinion is that only taxes due under the Land Tax Act suit the definition of a first charge on land. According to lawyers trained in contract law the other three Tax Acts do not list a similar provision.

The objective of this blog is not to blind readers with the technical. It is to ask why did this matter have to become contentious.

Those of us who listened to the the 2017 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals delivered by Minister Chris Sinckler would have had to listen carefully to hear when he mumbled that representatives of the BRA and Bankers Association met and agreed changes will be made to allay the concerns of the bankers. The BU household has been patient to wait for details coming out of the meeting.

The public deserves to be told why this matter was allowed to become contentious. Why did commercial banks take the decision to suspend property transactions totalling over two hundred million dollars and as a consequence cause emotional and financial stress on Barbadians. Was the draft amendment to the BRA Act widely circulated before being proclaimed? What is the role of the media to inform an ignorant public.

Donville Inniss is Correct, Barbados Bar Association Part of the Problem

On 30 July, Barbados Today reported on the comments of Donville Inniss and the response by the Bar Association’s (BA) new president, Liselle Weekes.

BU has long stressed the necessity of removing from the BA all matters disciplinary and responsibility for the Compensation Fund. Therefore, Mr Inniss’ comments are welcome, if a little late. Mr Inniss proposes, “…the establishment in law of a new legal services council – similar in structure and form to that of the medical council; a council that comprises of members of the legal profession and individuals who may not be attorneys; a council that is supported not just by statute, but also by the resources of the state.”

See related links:

 BU recommends to Mr Inniss that he takes a look at the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) of England and Wales, as we have repeatedly suggested. This is a body with the power to fully regulate and discipline solicitors AND to make payments out of the Compensation Fund. It is separate and distinct from the Law Society of England and Wales, which is England and Wales’ version of our BA. The SRA has not only the power to discipline and to compensate, but also to step in if they have reason to believe that a firm is not acting properly, so as to protect the consumer.

In Barbados, the qualifications to practice law and be issued a practicing certificate is a legislative decision, unlike in England and Wales where such a decision devolves on the Law Society of England and Wales. The disciplining, however, falls on the SRA. In addition, the SRA can discipline on its own authority and does not refer the matter to the courts unlike the BA that must refer matters to the Court of Appeal.

On the SRA website, it provides a list of the members of its disciplinary committee, along with a brief resume of each. And surprise, surprise! A large percentage of them are NOT lawyers. Ms Weekes’ spurious claim, “I am not certain that those persons would be in a better position to interpret what is a breach of the Code of Ethics than the attorneys-at law who currently sit on it,” is asinine. Take a look at the Code of Ethics of the BA and then honestly say if you do not think that a senior student at one of our schools could interpret them.

The cases before the disciplinary committee that enter the public conscience always involve an element of criminality, like fraud and theft. And if the DPP got off his ass and prosecuted the malefactors, would they be tried by lawyers, or a jury of their peers taken from all walks of life and professions?

Ms Weekes blathers about her favourite “get out of jail” word “perceptions”. Ms Weekes, the “perception” of the majority of Barbados agrees with Mr Inniss when he posits, “If we are truly to have a legal profession in Barbados, as opposed to just . . . a collection of lawyers, then we as a society and you as lawyers, must unshackle your minds and help create a system that not just sustains faith in your profession, but also enhances the profession.”

Mind you, if the Bar Association does not determine the qualifications by which practicing certificates are issued; has no authority over to whom they are issued; cannot constitutionally enforce membership of the BA; cannot actually discipline; and loses authority over the Compensation Fund…..what exactly is its function, other than running a website and e-mailing court lists provided by the Registrar to BA members only, instead of forcing the Registrar to e-mail the lists to all those with practicing certificates?

Ms Weekes makes a valiant effort to hide behind the useless amendments to the Legal Professions Act but fails to record just how long the BA has taken to get back to the Attorney General with its views on these useless amendments.

BU really hates to apportion credit to Donville Inniss but fair is fair. Now, let us see what he does about this matter BEFORE the next elections, so we can know whether his sentiments are real or political. For if he is genuine and “puts his money where his mouth is” he will actually have made a big difference. The icing on the cake would be Bhana being cited for a breach of the chicken wing laws of Barbados.

Tales from the Courts – Adriel Brathwaite #bajanswantchange XXX

The latest report emanating from Adriel Brathwaite on amendments to the Legal Professions Act has appeared in several news outlets. For those who have not read about it, here is one such report.

The truth is that these amendments will be as much use as trying to stick a plaster on a gaping abdominal wound. They are merely a political ploy to make it look as if Adriel Brathwaite is actually doing something so that the electorate will feel that he is deserving of his salary as an MP. And, of course, allowing him – some refer to him as Nitwit – to jump on the BU bandwagon in decrying the BA and the entire justice system, which now has come into fashion in politics as if it is the idea of each and every politician who spouts off about it. We have never heard one of them give BU any credit – but never mind, we can live with that – we are an anonymous blog and service to the country.

A quick look at how things operate in other jurisdictions, a look that Brathwaite could have taken himself, provided he is computer literate.


In England and Wales, the qualifications to practice as a solicitor are determined by the Law Society, which as a result vests in the Law Society the right of discipline, without recourse to any Court of Appeal – although the solicitor concerned can appeal a decision by the Law Society.

Here is what the Law Society has to say on its website about complaints. These complaints can also be made directly to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA). We recommend that everyone read this link and advert your particular attention to the part dealing with the Compensation Fund, which will resonate loudly with far too many dissatisfied clients in Barbados. It will also be noted that the SRA has the authority to close a firm and take possession of its accounts and documents, so that if, for example, a solicitor is withholding your documents, the SRA can and DOES force that solicitor to give them back to you.

In England and Wales, the Law Society also mandates that solicitors are obliged to take out professional indemnity insurance.


The Law Society of Upper Canada determines who and who cannot practice law in Ontario and, therefore, determines and applies disciplinary measures – see link.

The LSUC also has a Compensation Fund. However, be warned that, lacking an organization such as the UK’s SRA, in Ontario it takes ages for complaints to be addressed and dealt with, which is why they fudge the issue on their website and therefore for the Compensation Fund to kick in.

It is also to be noted that all Ontario solicitors must have personal liability insurance cover through LawPro. This insurance in both the UK and Ontario, provides that if you take a lawyer to court and win, it pays not only the lawyer’s legal fees and your legal fees, but also, up to a certain amount (I believe it is the equivalent of BBD$1.25 million) of any awards the court might make.

So compensation for the aggrieved and the costs of obtaining redress, other than trying to fruitlessly pursue and bankrupt attorney, is addressed by these countries.


In Barbados, the BA does not determine qualifications or to whom practice certificates are issued. That is the right of the executive. And it is clear that membership of the BA is certainly not mandatory The BA cannot discipline, but may only make recommendations to the Court of Appeal. This prolongs an already retarded and cumbersome process.

Why can the Legal Professions Act (in Brathwaite’s amendments) not establish under the same authority that determines qualifications and issues practicing certificates, a disciplinary body with the power to enforce disciplinary measures? It isn’t nuclear science is it?

The truth is that as it stands, the BA has cocked up the whole concept of the Disciplinary Committee. The Legal Professions Act specifically states that members of the Committee are to be “NOMINATED” by the executive. However, guess what? The BA’s executive does not nominate members, it has them elected by the membership, no doubt preparing those aspiring to be members of the DC for later general elections.

The framers of the Act showed great wisdom in using the word “NOMINATE”. It allows for lack of conflict of interest in that it allows the executive to NOMINATE retired judges and attorneys, rather than having brethren sit in judgement on fellow brothers. It is also true to say that the senior attorneys NOMINATED ought to have extensive criminal law experience, as they have far more experience with the weighing and assessment of evidence. This too is common sense, as long as you know the difference between “nominate” and “elect.

At the end of the day, the only amendments to the Legal Professions Act that stand a chance of dealing with the matter of discipline is to remove it completely from the BA and into the purview of the authority that determines who can and who cannot practice law in Barbados and to give that authority the right to discipline without recourse to the Court of Appeal and also to give it the Compensation Fund to administer and make payments out of. Otherwise, the general public will think that these Nitwit amendments are merely designed for political gain and mileage and will not benefit them at all – and they will be RIGHT!

However, there is absolutely nothing that says that the Legal Professions Act cannot establish a separate entity, not under the umbrella of the BA, to deal with disciplinary matters and with the Compensation Fund and to disbar without having to waste more time going to the Court of Appeal (or, more commonly, not) after decisions that at best smack of bias.

So Mr. Attorney General now that you know how it works in other countries feel free to use BU to lobby and put on pressure for workable amendments to the Legal Professions Act, instead of just a political sticking plaster on a gaping abdominal wound.

Barbados Bar Association and the Useless $2,000,000.00 Compensation Fund

This 2016 BU log is highlighted to respond to the page 3A article in today’s Sunday Sun (posted in BU’s comment Box below- Blogmaster

BU continues our spotlight on the Barbados Bar Association (BA) and the Disciplinary Committee (DC), in particular the little known Compensation Fund (CF). The CF can easily be compared to the useless Catastrophe Fund (CF#2), government recently made a decision to transfer the balance outstanding of 35 million dollars to the Consolidated Fund (CF#3). The BA’s website provides the following information on practicing certificates. There are only two references to the CF.


Practising Certificate-$ 2500.00

Practising Certificate – (Queen’s Counsel)- $ 2500.00

Compensation Fund- $ 200.00


Q. What are the fees payable prior to admission?

A. (a) Cheque (or cash) payable to Barbados Bar Association.

Less than 5 years $293.75

5 years and over $440.63

10 years and over $625.10

15 years and over $625.10

20 years and over $1175.00

Queens Counsel $1562.75

(b)Separate Cheques (or cash) payable to The Registrar of the Supreme Court

$200.00 – Compensation Fund – mandatory.

$2500.00 – Professional Registration Fee – [manadatory].

N.B. we only accept cash or cheque no debit or credit cards

NOTE: The standards of professional competence of the BA seems to exclude a spell-check that allows it to spell “mandatory” correctly. This is very encouraging if we consider competency as a measure.

Apart from that, there is no part of the BA’s website that explains the CF. See BU’s search string. There is absolutely nothing in a Google search from the BA to explain the CF. The Legal Professions Act states, inter alia:

50. (1) Where it is proved to the satisfaction of the Bar Association that any person has sustained loss in consequence of dishonesty on the part of an attorney-at-law or any clerk or servant of an attorney-at-law in connection with that attorney- at-law’s practice as an attorney-at-law or in connection with any trust of which that attorney-at-law is a trustee, then, subject to the provisions of this section, the Association may, if it thinks fit, make a grant to that person out of the Fund for the purpose of relieving or mitigating that loss.

(2) A grant may be made under this section whether or not the attorney-at-law had a Practising Certificate in force when the act of dishonesty was committed, and notwithstanding that after the commission of that act the attorney-at-law has died or had his name removed from the Roll, or has ceased to practise or been suspended from practice.

(3) On the making by the Bar Association of any grant under this section to any person in respect of any loss-

(a) the Association shall to the amount of that grant be subrogated to any rights and remedies in respect of that loss of the person to whom the grant is made or of the attorney-at-law, clerk or servant; and the person to whom the grant is made shall have no right under bankruptcy or other legal proceedings or otherwise to receive any sum out of the assets of the attorney-at-law, clerk or servant in respect of the loss until the Association has been reimbursed the full amount of its grant, and in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subsection reference to the person to whom the grant is made or to the attorney-at-law, clerk or servant includes, in the event of his death, insolvency or other disability, a reference to his personal representative or any other person having authority to administer his estate.

(4) The Bar Association may make rules with respect to the procedure to be followed in giving effect to the provisions of this section and of the Sixth Schedule and with respect to any matters incidental, ancillary or supplemental to those provisions or concerning the administration or protection of the Fund.

(5) No grant shall be made under this section in respect of any loss unless notice of the loss is received by the Bar Association in such manner and within such time after the loss first came to the knowledge of the loser as may be prescribed by rules made under subsection (4).

(6) For the purposes of enquiring into any matters which may affect the making or refusal of a grant under this section, the Bar Association or any committee appointed by the Association and authorised by it to exercise any of its functions under this section or to assist it in the exercise of any such functions may administer oaths.

In other words, the BA has the right to make a grant out of the CF, but if the complainant then is paid back the sum claimed from the attorney, they must refund the BA the amount the BA granted them out of the CF. This seems a fair position.

Note that in the Google search above, apart from the opaque reference to the CF on the BA’s website, the ONLY references to be found are to BU’s publications on the matter of the CF. The only substantive explanation BU can offer comes from Mrs Woodford-Riley QC, head off the DC which states, inter alia:

“I recall you had raised the issue of the compensation fund. In my opinion the existing provisions do allow the compensation fund to make payments with the provisos that it may require the applicant to pursue civil or criminal or disciplinary proceedings. It does then have something to do with our committee and we do give priority hearings to complaints involving funds. However the legislation limits our powers to a finding of professional misconduct and the ability to recommend removal, suspension, fine, reprimand, order for payment of costs. An Order by the Court of Appeal supporting our finding of professional misconduct would then be supportive of a claim to the fund. Action through civil proceedings is also an effective way to obtain a resolution and support a claim to the fund.”

We reflect on: “In my opinion the existing provisions do allow the compensation fund to make payments with the provisos that it may require the applicant to pursue civil or criminal or disciplinary proceedings.” What if the attorney is impecunious? Is it being suggested that a complainant, already burdened by financial loss attributable to some dishonest lawyer be required, at the complainant’s expense, to bring civil proceedings, with the legal costs, delays etc. to further screw up their lives? As for bringing a criminal action, surely that is a matter for the DPP to decide and prosecute, not the victim of a theft and breach of trust by a ‘teefing’ lawyer and, often, member of the BA?  What makes their crime of theft different from those incarcerated at Dodds? read Speaker Michael Carrington.  That they are lawyers and therefore must be deemed to have known what they were doing was criminal? Surely that makes it worse and even more deserving of a custodial sentence? What the hell are the Police and the DPP doing? Creating an immunity to prosecution to which only the Queen is lawfully entitled? Should we start addressing lawyers as “Your Majesty”?

We accept that the DC cannot order payment out of the CF, but what prevents it, in cases of hardship, from recommending it in its findings to the Court of Appeal and what prevents the Court of Appeal from passing on the recommendation in its judgement.

BOTTOM LINE: Due to a lack of transparency on the part of the BA and the justice system, complainants have probably never realised that they could make a claim under the CF and their lawyers sure as hell are not telling them about it. This has allowed the BA to grow and maintain its nest egg of now well over $2 million without ever making any payment at all, except to advertise the estates of deceased attorneys.

We want to make it clear that, until she proves us wrong, we have the greatest respect for Mrs Woodford-Riley QC, the head of the DC and we are encouraged to look forward to far-reaching changes to the efficiency, speed, transparency and the way the DC operates under her (recently appointed) leadership. As always BU will be closely monitoring and sharing feedback to our readership.

Understanding the Challenges Faced by the Disciplinary Committee of the Barbados Bar Association

Marguerite Woodstock-Riley, Chair of the Disciplinary Committee

Marguerite Woodstock-Riley, Chair of the Disciplinary Committee

It has become evident to BU that one of the reasons the Disciplinary Committee (DC) cannot effectively carry out its work is because of a lack of resources. Even the well-meaning Andrew ‘Pilly’ Pilgrim could not make a difference and the incumbent Woodstock-Riley must be facing the same challenge.

The DC is an autonomous body – not to be confused with the Bar Association – of all volunteers therefore adequate administrative support is essential for the committee to do its work. Routine office activities to efficiently record complaints, follow up on decisions, timely service of documents and record of date served, records of what is sent out and follow up, notices to committee members of matters to be discussed to enable preparation  etc. BU understands that the staff at the DC work only two days per week. To exacerbate the situation one staff member was extended to 5 days but was off sick for a large part of last year. After persistent representation by the BA another person was appointed to work 5 days per week by the Registrar. A scanner was used to better distribute documents and various systems put in place to have information automated. It is evident the BC needs greater resources to improve office administration to effectively tackle the mountain of complaints against members of the profession.

The committee meets every Tuesday but decided to  meet one Saturday per month in an attempt to chip away at the backlog. Some hearings were done on other days to accommodate complainants and teleconferences used to facilitate overseas complainants. Complaints were  prioritised and those involving financial issues as the highest.  Firmer positions taken on adjournments by both parties.

It is BU’s view given the backlog – just like what exist in our Courts – a draconian and urgent intervention will be required by the government to address the several issues faced by the DC. A proposal was made to increase the size of the committee to 14. At present 7 persons with 4 needed as a quorum makes it very difficult to review complaints efficiently, schedule hearings and have decisions written. An increase in the amount of financial support received by the committee to improve administrative support has been requested. However BU suspects given the current state of public finances the challenge at the DC will be with us for a while longer.

One area the DC can improve is in the area of communication with the public to increase awareness of what the DC is mandated to do. BU understands that many persons use the DC as a means of collecting funds or resolving issues that can more effectively done in other forums.

It is interesting to note that the majority of complaints to the DC involve land matters. While there has been a suggestion to restrict funds paid to attorneys on land sales BU has been advised that is not something the DC can act on.  BU’s concern is that Barbados should not have to reinvent the wheel in this regard. Let us borrow from other jurisdictions where disciplinary action is undertaken with fervour. We therefore await the proposed changes to the Legal Profession Act that is slated to be reviewed soon.

Can we [the people] expect to hear from the Attorney General and government on this issue?

TALES FROM THE COURTS – Vernon Smith QC Has Sued the Barbados Bar Association XXIX

Vernon Smith QC

Vernon Smith QC

Hot on the heels of his suit against Marston Gibson, Vernon Smith QC has sued the BA. It is reported that the BA has responded by filing and serving […] Continue reading

Barbados Bar Association and Michael Carrington

Marguerite Woodstock-Riley

Marguerite Woodstock-Riley, head of the Disciplinary Committee

Several weeks ago Barbadians were promised the Committee of Privileges will determine if Speaker Michael Carrington broke House rules, we continue to wait. To any observer it appears to be business as usual and this matter like many others will shuffle along until the next general election is called where is will die. We hope not. Parliament will resume sitting on the 10 March 2015. The people, the servants of the political class in parliament will have to wait like dogs waiting for a bone.

Let us assume the report, if it completed, will confirm Prime Minister’s Stuart’s view that the Michael Carrington issue is a personal matter, and has nothing to do with parliament. It will confirm to many that public opinion is not a factor with this government. (The idea a political leader of Barbados would make such an idiotic statement continues to be incomprehensible to many and deserves greater national discourse)

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A Moribund Entity that is the Barbados Bar Association

Barry Gale QC, President of the BA

Barry Gale QC, President of the BA

When Andrew Pilgrim took up the post of President of the Barbados Bar Association, BU was very optimistic that in tandem with newly appointed CJ Gibson, some efficiency would have been achieved in our court system. We were wrong. To compound the perception that the Bar is a moribund entity it has been three months since Barry Gale QC took the baton from Pilgrim and the public is none the wiser about progress made by the Bar during his tenure.

Several reasons are listed on the Barbados Bar Association website why it was established under the Barbados Bar Association Act of 1940. Of the 27 reasons given a few should be of interest to Barbadians if only because they are laudable or should that be laughable:

Related Link: Non Contentious Fees (The Legal Profession Act Cap. 370A)

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Barbados Bar Association Must Be Dissolved

Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite

Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite

A BU blog Compensation Fund: Another Screw-up By the Barbados Bar Association highlighted another in a list of indiscretions by the Barbados Bar Association (BA). The big regret is that the traditional media refuses to honour its obligation to expose this club to the glare of the public. For years the who is who in the legal fraternity shuffle in and out of the President’s position all for the glory of achieving silk or the token of notoriety it offers. BU relishes the opportunity to ask Andrew Pilgrim QC what he accomplished during his tenure as BA president.

What is really irksome has been the lack of transparency and disclosure regarding lawyers who have had complaints lodged against them by the public. BU’s Plantation Deeds among many come to mind.  It is obvious that the BA as a self regulating body is woefully inadequate – by its track record –  to deal with the mounting concerns of the public regarding those bad apples in the legal barrel. Surely the time has come, if we want to be solution oriented, to change the governance structure as it relates to the legal profession. The Disciplinary Committee of the BA has done nothing to assuage the concerns of the public. The BA as represented in the Act has failed to regulate on a simple matter like who qualifies to be issued practicing certificates and what fee to receive from lawyers.

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Vernon Smith QC Suggests Barbados Bar Association Illegally Charging VAT on Member Subscriptions

Vernon Smith QC

Vernon Smith QC

BU read the Barbados Today article with  interest which outlined Vernon Smith QC reaction to being characterised a delinquent Barbados Bar Association (BA) member. The BU family is reminded of the list which was circulated by the BA and posted to BU in a blog by Caswell Franklyn – Defaulting Lawyers.

BU has posited a view that the Legal Profession Act contravenes the Constitution of Barbados concerning lawyers who opt not to pay BA fees and is therefore a nullity ab initio. Vernon Smith’s view has also been discussed.  Now that he has come public in his defense it provides the opportunity for the BU family to explore the matter further.

Vernon Smith is quoted in the article as follows:

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Tales From The Courts XII – Barbados Bar Membership Revisited – Registrar and Sir David Simmons, Wilfred Abrahams Exposed

Update: The Nation newspaper has issued a public apology to Sir David Seale and Caswell Franklyn in today’s  edition. It turns out that it was our own Caswell who penned the Guest Column and NOT Sir David

In a recent blog BU investigated the issue of attorneys who opt not to be members of the Barbados Bar Association (“BA”) on the basis that the Legal Profession Act contravenes the Constitution of Barbados and is, as a result, a nullity ab initio.

The almost unanimous opinions expressed by BU’s legal eagles was that the Legal Profession Act would be found in law to be a nullity ab initio.

BU has received a letter from attorney-at-law Wilfred A. Abrahams to the President of the Barbados Bar Association dated April 12, 2003 in which he gives notice that the attorneys of the chambers of which he is head, Aegis Chambers, intend to object to appearing in court with any attorney who has not submitted themselves to the Legal Profession Act and, inter alia, accusing these dissenting attorneys of committing an illegal act by practicing law – See Letter sent by Abrahams to the Bar – part 1 and Part 2

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Non Membership in the Barbados Bar Association Does Not Preclude a Lawyer’s Right to Practice Law

Marston Gibson, Chief Justice (l) Andrew Pilgrim, President of Barbados Bar Association

Marston Gibson, Chief Justice (l) Andrew Pilgrim, President of Barbados Bar Association

BU has been provided with a copy of the letter dated April 4, 2013 by which the Chief Justice finally advised the new Queens Counsel that he had received the Letters Patent that the GG had executed and sent to the CJ some weeks previously, instructing that they be delivered. The GG had also officially informed the new Queens Counsel himself of their appointment, from which time they had the right to put the letters QC after their names. Do not expect Chief Justice Gibson to offer an explanation for the delay.

BU has also been provided with a legal opinion on the matter of mandatory membership of the Barbados Bar Association, on which it has been argued, in essence, that there is a requirement that attorneys who are certified to practice law in Barbados must also be members of the Barbados Bar Association. BU’s legal opinion states that, as such an Act breaches the Constitution, it is a nullity ab initio, as indeed is any law which breaches the Constitution. Otherwise, the Constitution, which requires a two third majority of the House to change it, would be held hostage to the much lower standard of a simple act of parliament, which requires merely a majority. This would compromise the rights of Bajans and infringe their liberties. Pursued, it could also potentially lead away from democracy to dictatorship.

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Defaulting Lawyers

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Recently, I heard that the Bar association had published a list of attorneys-at-law who did not pay their dues to the association, as required by law. At first, I was a bit sceptical but all doubts have been removed when I saw a story in the Saturday Sun of April 6, 2013 to that effect.

Surprisingly, the list appeared in my Inbox: it contained the names of 75 lawyers. The whole affair piqued my interest, so I set about to find out the reason for the omission of so many lawyers. The reasons ranged from: conscientious objection, no longer practising, inadvertence to plain just being cheap. I have examined the case for the conscientious objectors, and quite frankly, I believe that by not paying their dues, they have shown utter disrespect for the law that they are sworn to uphold.

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Bar Association President Andrew Pilgrim Serving Two Masters

Andrew Pilgrim, President of the Barbados Bar Association

… we decided to approach Andrew Pilgrim, well known dramatist and President of the Bar Association for his view…

Bajan Reporter

The above was extracted from an article posted by Ian Bourne on his websitePresident of the Barbados Bar Association sees special Unit for Raul Garcia as Tax Inefficient – Let the former Convict live and work here!. What snagged the attention of BU was not the substantive issue highlighted by the article but the way Andrew Pilgrim was introduced. Whether Bourne realized, it he reminded BU of a growing concern we have about Andrew Pilgrim and his role as President of the Bar Association. To add to the rub BU got sight of a document which features Pilgrim in an upcoming TV-series. 

BU is fully supportive of the Arts and our concern should not be seen as being against The Soap Opera Project. We wish the Caribbean Film Festival all the success. BU has been  an advocate for this government to get more aggressive in its effort to support the cultural and creative sector. BU continues to monitor the passage of the Cultural Industries Bill and will not attempt to muddy the waters at this stage although we remain agitated at the agendas being played out.

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Chief Justice Marston Gibson Slams Barbados Bar Association President, Andrew Pilgrim

Marston Gibson, Chief Justice (l) Andrew Pilgrim, President of Barbados Bar Association

In an email to Andrew Pilgrim, president of the Barbados Bar Association, Chief Justice Marston Gibson has slammed the BBA, thereby raising many points that BU has been promoting about the Justice System.

The Chief’s email to Mr Pilgrim is posted to the members section of the BBA website and requires that it be accessed by passwords available to BBA members only. However, BU has been able to obtain a copy and states that it posts this as a matter of public interest!

This comes at a time when BU understands that the Registrar has been told that she may not sit as a judge to replace judges on leave (in this case, Madam Justice Kentish) and that her job is to stay in the Registry and sort out the mess. Instead, Madam Justice Kentish has been replaced during her six month leave by the Chief Magistrate.

Here is what the Chief has had to say to Mr Pilgrim and the BBA.

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Barbados Society Built On Law And Order – Collusion Of Silence Cloaks The Appointment of Chief Justice Of Barbados

Marston Gibson, Chief Justice of Barbados Designate

Marston Gibson, Chief Justice of Barbados Designate

If there is one thing the government of Barbados must plead guilty, it is the procrastination and vacillation which has affected their ability to appoint a Chief Justice of Barbados. The denial given to Sir David which forced him into an early retirement would have signalled to the public the government had a plan  to attack the many issues which are afflicting our Judicature.

If there is one attribute which recommends Barbados it is the fact our country is still regarded as an orderly society. The strength of our democracy, law and order; its political and social stability has become a symbiosis. At the epicentre of the administration of justice sits the Chief Justice. Sir David was sent hurrying on pre-retirement leave on the 21 Jan 2010, more that a year ago. Is it conceivable to think that any company wishing to be successful would want to have an entrenched appointee at the top? It has nothing to do with the vacuous and spurious excuses being offered to the effect Justice Sherman Moore is competent.

Besides the ugly and embarrassing situation which must be tarnishing the reputation and credibility of our court system has been the silence of those who should be most vociferous given the tardy appointment of a permanent Chief Justice. Recently appointed President of the Barbados Bar Association Andrew Pilgrim has been uncharacteristically silent. The Barbados Labour Party Opposition who registered disagreement when Sir David was refused the extension, also opposed the amendment of the Judicature of the Supreme Court Act, which many believed cleared the way for Marston Gibson to take up the post, has been passive on the issue. The most resounding silence has been the local media who although willing to do a public relations job on Marston Gibson, felt hat and all, has shown a reluctance to disseminate the bigger issues created by his non appointment.

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Barbadians Are Listening Very Carefully To What You Say Chief Justice Marston Gibson

Marston Gibson, Chief Justice of Barbados Designate

Marston Gibson, Chief Justice of Barbados Designate

The appointment of Chief Justice (CJ) Marston Gibson has generated heated debate in some quarters. Today President of the Barbados Bar Association Andrew Pilgrim criticized the current system which which sees the Prime Minister appointing judges. It seems he was peeved about the reason which Gibson offered for accepting the appointment in the face of the public furore directed at his appointment. Gibson indicated it was a promise he made to late Prime Minister Thompson which he felt obligated to honour. Pilgrim’s view differs with his colleague Ralph Thorne who believes the quality of decisions by a Prime Minister will be judged by the electorate. Therefore a Prime Minister has a vested interest in appointing quality judges to the bench. It should be noted based on a little research, all the sitting judges were appointed by Prime Minister Owen Arthur.

In the weekend news just passed there was the obligatory public relations spread which sought to give the public an insight into what to expect from the incoming CJ. BU would have asked the harder questions but such is the lay of the land. In the Public Relations job facilitated by Tony Best of the Nation Gibson articulated changes he plans to implement when he assumes office. By the way did BU miss it or was the position officially announced by government? His interview generated mild comment in some quarters while others suggested CJ Gibson has not stated anything that has not already made it into the public domain and in some instances are in the process of being implemented.

The following is an extract from Sir David Simmon’s speech at the opening of the Special Sitting of the Supreme Court to mark the commencement of the legal year 2009-2010 at the new Judicial Building. One of the advantages the incoming CJ will have is that he will be under the public microscope like no other CJ who preceded him. He will therefore have to be very wary when he makes public statements. A read of Sir David’s speech touches many of the suggestions proffered by Gibson in the weekend press, you decide.

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An Outdated Legal System In Need Of Leadership

Attorney General and Home Affairs Minister Adriel Brathwaite

The arrest of the venerable lawyer Leroy Lynch on a 2.2 million fraud charge  on the weekend, has sent ripples through the legal fraternity and wider society. Why would Mr. Lynch, who has represented First Caribbean International Bank, and before that CIBC for many years, sought to perpetrate fraud has proved to be incomprehensible to BU. It will be interesting to observe the Director of Public Prosecutor’s argument.

The Lynch issue has served yet again to catapult the legal profession into the public eye. The recently appointed President of the Barbados Bar Association (Bar) Andrew Pilgrim, and his early struggle to transmit an unequivocal position on behalf of the Bar regarding the decision to amend the law to accommodate the appointment of incoming Chief Justice Marston Gibson, is symptomatic of something greater. Last week retired jurist and former Attorney General Sir Frederick Smith was surprisingly censored on a talk show when he attempted to speak about the cabals which exist inside the Bar.

BU’s investigation has turned up that they are those who operate within the realm of the judicature whose power structures have suddenly become threatened by the imminent arrival by someone outside the inner circle.  Now that the government has shown it is determined to appoint Marston Gibson, some members of the Bar might be seen as  using intimidatory tactics to signal to Gibson his life will be very uncomfortable sitting on the Bench should he accept the job. In a nutshell the appointment of Marston Gibson will disrupt a pecking order which is sure to irritate the fraternity of men in wigs who gather in the back rooms to toss back glasses of Sherry from time to time before handing down their decisions.

Many may become distracted with the the issues being generated by the appointment of incoming Chief Justice Marston Gibson but a clog in the wheel to dispensing justice in Barbados has been the inefficiency of the Court Registry. The leadership of the Registry has demonstrated over time to be highly incompetent. Could it be there is a fear  Gibson will actually expect the leadership of the Court Registry to ‘up their game’?

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Once A Lawyer, Always A Damn Lawyer!

Andrew Pilgrim, President of the Barbados Bar Association

A registered attorney at law is currently assisting lawmen with investigations into a number of matters of fraud. CBC understands that the circumstances involve alleged conveyances of land. One case under investigation reportedly exceeded over two million dollars of property. Reports are that the attorney could be facing several charges and could appear in court as early as (10 March 2011)

They say timing is everything. The Barbados Bar Association (Bar) does not need another example to illustrate how greed has infiltrated its ranks. The incidence of lawyers ‘teeffin’ from Barbadians is reaching close to tipping point. It is only a matter of time before vigilante justice takes hold if the Bar is not able to police itself. The case highlighted represents the tip of the iceberg, rampant misconduct by lawyers has become the routine.  It has now become difficult for Barbadians – who are intimidated by the profession through their ignorance – to determine correct procedure from what is taking advantage.

Against the foregoing, the recent report of Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart defending his* profession on a flimsy premise provoked the thought, ‘birds of a feather flocked together’.   Here is what he is quoted as saying in parliament yesterday (09 March 2010),   “Prime Minister [sic] Freundel Stuart on Tuesday came to the defence of the legal profession, noting that Barbadians were often too quick to criticize lawyers for charging exorbitantly high fees for their services”.

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High Expectations On The Appointment Of Andrew Pilgrim To Lead The Barbados Bar Association

Andrew Pilgrim, Attorney-at-Law

BU read the the views expressed by outgoing President of the Barbados Bar Association (BBA) Leslie Haynes QC which were pressed recently by a local newspaper and was left to ask the question – how did he [Haynes] advance the BBA in the last year? Quoting the article,  Haynes, who did not seek re-election at yesterday’s annual general meeting, also called on Government to put a new Land Title Act on the statute books. BU’s expectation at Haynes’ appointment as President of BBA that he would have blazed a legacy of merit was never pitched very high anyway.

Haynes’ biggest contribution as President of the BBA would have been his utterance which condemned the appointment of incoming Chief Justice Marston Gibson. Perhaps it is one he will regret. BU’s position on the appointment of Gibson is a matter of record. His selection from outside the inner ring recommends him most, the fact that he is an eminently qualified Barbadian is beyond dispute.

In the same way our expectation of Haynes was anchored very low we hold the opposite view for his replacement based on information which comes from a reliable source. The election of Andrew Pilgrim as President of the BBA signals that there are some in the legal community who yearn for a new dispensation.

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The Spectre Of Political Interference By Some In The Legal Fraternity And The Co-option Of Local Media

Leslie Haynes QC - President of the Barbados Bar Association

In the last week or so, Nation “journalist” Tim Slinger wrote a report on the fed-up Barbados Bar. The basis of his report was a letter from Barbados Bar Association (BBA) Chairman, Leslie Haynes Q.C. to Acting Chief Justice Sherman Moore.

According to Leslie Haynes, “As president of the Bar, it is my duty to inform you of the general feeling of the Bar, that the wheels of our judicial system are grinding to a halt.” Haynes subsequently released a copy of this letter to the Nation.

BU has held back on commenting on this matter lest we be dragged across the coals by the legal beavers who frequent this blog space. The report could hardly be done justice until a smidgen of investigative journalism was practiced. It is no secret how BU feels about the local Fourth Estate and by extension the Nation’s capacity to engage “investigative” journalism approaches; a prerequisite to being a professional journalist.

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