Chief Justice Marston Gibson Should Consider Expanding Alternative Dispute Resolution To Include Family Law Matters

Chief Justice Marston Gibson

Chief Justice Marston Gibson

In BU’s previous blog about Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) most if not all of the comments  shared were favourable to its quick implementation. We cannot repeat enough times how lamentable it is that –  to quote CJ Gibson – ‘our Courts are in crisis’ and ADR was not  introduced under the former CJ as one  tactic to assist with the efficient handling of the case backlog in our Courts. Nevertheless  for his effort Sir David Simmons  was rewarded the obligatory Knighthood.

Whilst the OECS Practice Directions exist for Barbados to follow  – and it seems ‘strange’ that we should be following the OECS on this matter in much the same way that as a jurisdiction it has already achieved  CAT 1 status contrasted with Barbados’ Cat II – there is merit to the CJ advocating for expanding  ADR to include family law matters. Anyone who has observed how family  matters are dealt with by the Barbados Courts is driven to be very  sympathetic to the parties on both sides of the matter. Most oft than not the principals are from the lower rung of society with few options available to them except to wait on our Courts to give currency to the view that justice delayed is justice denied.

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Welcome To The Chief, His Lordship, Chief Justice Marston Gibson

Newly Appointed Chief Justice Marston Gibson

On August 14, 2010, BU broke the story that our late Prime Minister David Thompson, after consultation with the Attorney General, Freundel Stuart, the present Prime Minister, and with the then Leader of the Opposition, Mia Mottley Q.C., had made the decision to appoint internationally acclaimed Bajan jurist, Marston Gibson, as Barbados’ new Chief Justice.

In making this appointment from outside the inner ring, the word of the late Prime Minister to Bajans has been kept from beyond the grave. The reason for reaching outside the ring has been fully discussed in this forum. A ring infested by incestuous relationships shaped by lodge and other fraternity ties. The course of events that followed are well known.

Many believe His Lordship should have been allowed to assume the CJ position without the hassle he has had to endure.  The Government, out of abundance of caution because it wanted to ensure that no nuisance legal challenges to the appointment could be made, amended the Supreme Court of Judicature Act to use the words “common law” instead of “Commonwealth”. Therefore any politically motivated time-wasting legal challenges to the appointment of an undoubted and eminently qualified son of our soil was effectively thwarted. A son of our soil who, as can be easily ascertained from the Internet, has never forgotten his roots and whose unrelenting promotion of Barbados is well documented.

Now, almost a year after it broke this story, BU is able to formally welcome Chief Justice Gibson back to the land where is navel string is buried to share with us his scholarship, energy and experience and to deliver back to Barbadians a justice system which has lost its way. Chief Justice Gibson inherits a comatose legal system that he must now raise from the dead. It is an gargantuan task, but one in which we are optimistic he will rise to the challenge.

To His Lordship the Chief Justice we say:

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A Barbados Judiciary In Limbo

Chief Justice of Barbados Designate

Barbados is to open its Courts on June 24, 2011. The burning question is if after over a year without a permanent sitting Chief Justice, we can expect Marston Gibson to warm the bench as the new Chief Justice. Would the shareholders of an important and profitable corporation appoint an acting CEO for one year?

Can we expect Mr. Gibson’s appointment to be gazetted FINALLY?

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The PEOPLE Crying Out For Justice From The Barbados Courts

Attorney General, Minister Adriel Brathwaite

Supposing any of you are widowed.

Supposing that you and your late husband had worked all your lives to accumulate a little nest egg to secure financial comfort in your golden years and that everything you own was in your husband’s name.

The funeral is over and you go to the lawyers and ask them to obtain probate in your husband’s estate so that you can continue to have the means to live (either in accordance with your husband’s Will or he may have died intestate, let us deal with the intestate part another time.)  The lawyers will enter the Will for probate.

There was a time in Barbados and in some other jurisdictions, the process of probate would have taken between 6 and 12 weeks from the time the lawyers filed the application.

Today, the Registry takes TWO (2) YEARS.

So what are your avenues for recourse? Remember, your husband’s assets are FROZEN until probate is granted. You rely on the charity of family and friends.

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A Year Has Passed, What Is The Delay In Appointing The Chief Justice?

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

The office of Chief Justice became vacant on April 28, 2010. Since that date the duties of that office have been performed by an acting Chief Justice. In the interim Government took steps to fill the post by going as far as making legislative changes to the qualification requirements, on March 20th at 12:35 a.m. in order to accommodate their preferred candidate. It appeared that the Government was moving with all deliberate speed to fill the vacancy as though there was some deadline that they had to meet. However, with all the fancy manoeuvring the post remains vacant.

It is as though no one in the Administration realises that this state of affairs holds Barbados up to ridicule internationally. Government should never allow a situation where an acting judge would be at the mercy of the Executive for a permanent appointment for such a prolonged period, before a substantive appointment is made. Just imagine a situation where a plaintiff has a case against the government before an acting judge. The judge should never be in a position where he has at the back of his mind any conflict about giving a judgement, against the Government, and not finally getting the permanent appointment. In this case, Barbados is fortunate and should be grateful that all the persons who are acting in this present debacle are of the highest calibre. The quality of the actors notwithstanding this situation is untenable.

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