The Judiciary – Barbados is Really, Truly an Island

Submitted by Loose Cannon (name withheld)


I am self representing  in various matters in the HIGH COURTS of Barbados and one Judge made an Order.
    2.The Claimant be advised to engage the services of an attorney-at-law..
So I asked a question. The Judge recused self. But that is not the worse.  Since September 19, 2019 the Judge has held the file and because of that I cannot get to process another Judge or new Date.  Why is the file being kept?  what the hell is this?  In another matter the Judge recused himself because he knew the Defendant and he gave the file back to his Clerk to return to the Registry so that the matter could proceed. That has happened.
Another matter, another Judge the case was dismissed with cost.  I was absent. No Defense on file no Application. SUMMARILY DISMISSED. No where else in the World are judges dismissing matters cases “summarily” without exquisite care. The following link is an indication of the guidelines for such actions.
All across the Commonwealth Judges are prudent and rational Officers of justice. It seems to be the opposite in Barbados.  The Attorney General recently opined that the judicial process will be sped up with the compliment of new Judges.   We seem to have the Peter Principle permeating in the Judiciary.  At least my experience, one too many tells this woeful tale.
Case after case judges have rejected Applications to Strike Out of Dismiss “summarily” (at beginning of case) (you hear? APPLICATION TO……).
  1. it is “plain and obvious” that the claim discloses no reasonable cause of action;  or they
  2. are patently ridiculous or incapable of proof.   No Application in this case but matter Dismissed.
I don’t want to be conceited but not by a stretch of the imagination is my case in either of those categories, but then again, it boils down to depth and breadth of knowledge. You know WHAT YOU DO NOT KNOW.  and you can learn a lot from a Dummy.
So listen up.   Goldie Muirr (Israel’s PM) said Never again. Never again must Lawyers file or continue to use this Low-Down method/strategy to have their Clients avoid facing Justice.
In a Landmark Appeal case in UK the Appeal Judge noted:  Diplock LJ said: ‘Thomas William Harkness, retired boiler-lagger, if he had followed, as I have no doubt he has, the intricacies of the interlocutory proceedings in the case, must have thought that `the law is an ass’. I am not sure that this judgment will change his opinion, but at any rate he will not feel it is such an unjust ass as he must have felt before. It was to remedy just this kind of injustice that the new RSC Ord 2 r 1 was made.’
I don’t know; but sometimes (the operators make) the law looks like an ass.
In another in London the Learned Judge  opined:
  1. The new rules (CPR) should be construed widely and generously to give effect to its manifest intentions.
  2. I am in no doubt that the manner in which the Judge (lower court) exercised his discretion is seriously flawed. (Judges make mistakes too but on what grounds did the Judge in my case make his mistake, with no Application to Dismiss?) Are we in the          30’s Wild West?
  3. If we do not make an Order directing the correction of these errors, and we leave the judge’s order to stand, in my judgement the result would be the antithesis of justice.  The Claimant’s Claim would be struct out in its infancy without and opportunity to investigate its merit and the Defendants would receive an unjustified windfall.
These Judges, Lord this and Lord that are beautifully BRILLIANT in their determinations.
In another landmark case in London, with an  Application to Strike Out  again, the Lower Court judge in refusing opined
  1. The claimant, Faiz Siddiqui, was a history student at the University of Oxford, who sat his final examinations in June 2000 and obtained a 2:1 degree.
  2. The claim was issued on 26 August 2014.
  3. The defendant applied to strike out and/or sought summary judgment so as to prevent the case from going to trial.
Under section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980 the court has discretion to extend the three year limitation period for bringing a claim for personal injury. The judge was firmly of the view that this issue ought to be determined with the benefit of oral evidence and cross-examination. He did not consider that this was a case in which the prospect of the trial judge being persuaded to extend time and disapply the primary limitation period was too low to justify a trial of the issue.
Strike out denied.  Justice Karr opined that with all the evidence from both parties, “It seema to me, that the University has a case to answer”.
Where are we with justice?   Judges ought NOT to be allowing perpetrators to “get away with murder” behind technical and frivolous grounds.  There will be anarchy in the land.
Know your rights and options regarding summary strike Outs and dismissals.  There are a plethora of cases of denied strike outs and dismissals online so be armed with your smoking guns:
  •   and more
Better yet Defend yourselves.  All the information is now on line. This shit has to stop. So to Appeal we go.  More costs, paper and time.

Time to Modernize Court System

Judicial Impact Assessment (JIA) is a process whereby the government can anticipate the likely cost of implementing a legislation through the courts and help deliver timely justice to litigants. Litigation demand depends on a variety of factors most of which are not factored in the making of laws. This results in the court system being left with little or no extra resources to cope with additional cases generated by new laws… The Hindu (Judicial impact assessment and timely delivery of justice)

One of the pillar issues of the Barbados Underground through the years has been to focus on a dysfunctional Barbados Judicial System.  It is a fact that timely delivery of justice in the local court system has been compromised because of many factors detailed in the Tales of the Courts.

Fast forward to the present, we have an embarrassing situation where the delivery of justice of the Barbados Supreme Court has been negatively affected because the ‘relatively’ new building is deemed to be a threat to the health of the occupants and has had to be closed for maintenance. The result is that the court system threatens to crash under its own weight- to borrow words from newly installed Attorney General Dale Marshall- as cases have had to be tried using alternative arrangements. Not to forget the ancillary services that form part of the delivery of court services that have to be arranged for as well.

Central to maintaining an orderly society is to ensure we are able to efficiently manage a judicial system that is made relevant. The inability of successive governments to ensure timely delivery of justice by providing adequate oversight has been the biggest challenge. While we are being overwhelmed by basic issues related to occupational health and safety of court buildings, misplaced files, incompetent judicial officers and the like- modern court systems in more enlightened jurisdictions are being planned.

A new flagship court specifically designed to tackle cybercrime, fraud, and economic crime will reinforce the UK’s reputation as a world-leading legal centre, the Lord Chancellor will announce tonight (Wednesday 4 July).

The following article is reproduced to be used as a benchmark to what is required if we are to align with real world demands of the legal system. It is noteworthy how technology will be integrated in the delivery of justice to manage:

  •  case files and applications to the court e.g. apply for divorce,
  • small money claims
  • apply for probate
  • create strategic linkage with the transportation sector to resolve cases.
  • deal with minor (nuisance cases) online

Read the full article (thanks to Senator Caswell Franklyn for sharing)

World-class fraud and cybercrime court approved for london’s fleetbank house site

A new flagship court specifically designed to tackle cybercrime, fraud, and economic crime will reinforce the UK’s reputation as a world-leading legal centre, the Lord Chancellor will announce tonight (Wednesday 4 July).

  • A new flagship 18 courtroom legal centre providing world-class legal services in the heart of London given go-ahead
  • To be built on the site of Fleetbank House, the court will reinforce the UK’s position as a global legal hub

Developed in partnership with the City of London Corporation and the judiciary, the cutting edge, purpose-built court, which will also deal with business and property work as well as civil cases, will hold 18 modern courtrooms and replace the ageing civil court, Mayor’s and City of London County Court, and City of London Magistrates’ Court. Also included in the court will be a new City of London police station.

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A feasibility study to look at whether a court might be built was announced last October, and now the plan has been given the go-ahead. Speaking to members of the senior judiciary at the Mansion House this evening [4 July], the Lord Chancellor, alongside the Lord Mayor, Charles Bowman, and Lord Chief Justice, will reveal that the court will be built on the site of Fleetbank House in the heart of the City.

English law is currently used in 40% of all global corporate arbitrations, and more than 200 foreign law firms currently have offices in the UK. Revenue generated by legal activities in the UK was worth £31.5bn in 2016, and the top 100 UK law firms generated over £22bn in 2016/17. Built next to some of the world’s leading legal, business and technology firms in the heart of legal London, this court will be a sign to the world that the UK remains the global centre for law and finance.

Lord Chancellor David Gauke said:

The flag of English law is flown in countries across the globe, and London already leads the way as the best place to do business and resolve disputes.

This state-of-the-art court is a further message to the world that Britain both prizes business and stands ready to deal with the changing nature of 21st century crime.

The City of London is the world’s financial centre, hosting an unparalleled cluster of financial, professional, and business services. The City’s legal services offer, clustered around the Temples in the West of the Square Mile, which plays host to more than 17,000 solicitors, is a vibrant centre for international law firms serving their clients across the world.

Commenting on the announcement Policy Chairman of the City of London Corporation Catherine McGuinness said:

This is a hugely significant step in this project that will give the Square Mile its second iconic courthouse after the Old Bailey.

Our rule of law is one of the many reasons why London is the world’s most innovative, dynamic, and international financial centre, and this new court will add to our many existing strengths.

I’m particularly pleased that this court will have a focus on the legal issues of the future, such as fraud, economic crime, and cyber-crime.

Fleet Street may historically be known for hosting newspapers, but I believe with this iconic project it will be seen as a world leading centre for legal services and justice for decades to come.

The Government is investing £1 billion in reforming and modernising courts and tribunals, which has already delivered:

  • A fully paperless system in conjunction with Transport for London – which means thousands of cases involving fare evasion are dealt with more swiftly and effectively.
  • An online system which enables court staff to prepare case files and access them digitally in a courtroom during a hearing – saving 68 million pages of paper.
  • The ability for those convicted of minor motoring offences to make their initial plea online. Some 1500 pleas are dealt with online every week. Court staff and the police automatically receive the completed online plea form as soon as the defendant has submitted it, reducing delays.

In the civil courts people can now:

  • Make a small money claim online – with over 3,000 claims issued in the first month, cases moving through more quickly, and user satisfaction over 80% during the pre-launch pilot.
  • Apply for a divorce online – which has cut errors in application forms from 40% to less than 1%, saving people time and trouble during a traumatic time.
  • Apply for probate online – which has also cut errors, sped up the process, and has a satisfaction rate of more than 90%.

Notes to editors:

  • The timeline for building the new court is subject to finalising funding arrangements and securing planning permission. It is expected to be completed in 2025.
  • The proposal for a new court was announced last October by the City of London Corporation, and work on feasibility has now concluded and a location for the court has been set. Funding will be provided by the City of London Corporation and HMCTS.
  • The court will replace the civil court, Mayor’s and City of London County Court, and City of London Magistrates’ Court, which are owned by the City Corporation and which HMCTS operate. |* The Employment Appeal Tribunal that is currently at Fleetbank House will move to the Rolls Building.
  • The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK.

There is some irony that the new president  Hon. Justice Saunders of the Caribbean Court of Justice was sworn in at the HoGs conference in Montego Bay yesterday – a court that has been strident in its observations of the failings of the local court to deliver timely decisions. Prime Minister Mia Mottley attending her first HoGs lauded the establishment of the CCJ as an example of how regional countries can leverage regional institutions to effective manage our affairs. Perhaps the time has come…

Former Magistrate Carlisle Greaves Shares Techniques to Improve Barbados Court System

Former Magistrate Carlisle Greaves retired Judge in Bermuda

Former Magistrate Carlisle Greaves delivered an address to the Barbados Rotary South last evening (30 August 2017) on the topical subject of crime. Unlike much of the emotional debate being stoked by political motives and ignorance, Greaves in a relatively short address highlighted some of the factors at the root of a failing court system that in his view is contributing to the rising crime situation in Barbados.

Thanks to citizen advocate Kammie Holder for sharing.

Tales from the Courts – CJ Marston Gibson Usurps the Legislature With Practice Directions (MEDIATION/ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION) XXXI

Marston Gibson, Chief Justice of Barbados Designate

Chief Justice Marston Gibson

It is very interesting to BU that none of our legal fraternity has come out publicly, YET, to condemn the lack of legality of the new Practice Directions handed down by Marston Gibson, despite the fact that they have been widely publicized by the Nation newspaper. Needless to say, if you go on the Supreme Court website and navigate to, for reasons passing all understanding News Publications and click on the drop-down menu and select the equally mystifying Press Releases, at the very bottom of the page, you will find, in the second column in very small print Practice Directions but you will not find these new practice directions listed there, as it appears that there have been no practice directions since 2013. Instead, you will either have to go and purchase a copy of the Official Gazette, or brave the rudeness and non-cooperation of the Registry and hope that you find someone there who knows what the hell you are talking about.

With these 2016 practice directions, Marston Gibson has given himself a problem. A big fat problem. It stems from the fact that, despite being a Rhodes scholar and an alumnus of Oxford University, his total incompetence as a chief justice is now an established fact. He simply does not get it at all as is witnessed in his new Practice Directions – which are illegal.

As a background, let it be said that Barbados takes its Civil Procedure Rules 2008 from those of England and Wales, almost verbatim. Those Rules govern the conduct of civil cases brought before the courts.

The history of these Rules is startlingly similar to Barbados. In England and Wales, the Rules came into force as the result of, like Barbados, there being a crisis in the delivery and timeliness of justice – in other words, there was a backlog. Lord Woolf, the then Master of the Rolls (head of the Court of Appeal) was tasked with formulating new civil procedure rules to, hopefully, solve the matter and move things along quicker and shut down the delaying tactics of lawyers. Barbados legislated these Rules in 2008 and they came into force in 2009. But we should maybe have also addressed the delaying tactics of lazy, incompetent judges, for what worked for England and Wales with, no doubt, the assistance of a competent judiciary, has clearly not worked for Barbados, the sole reason being said lazy, incompetent judges and a series of even lazier and more incompetent registrars.

The introduction of the Barbados Rules was motored by Simmons CJ. These Rules are not amendable or revocable at the whim or on the authority of a CJ; but rather this is the province of the legislature.

On 17 October 2013 in an address for International Conflict Resolution Day 2013, Sir David Simmons stated, “Parts 25 and 26 of the new Rules provide for Mediation but the process of mediation needs statutory support. There are two ways in which this may be achieved. First, in the same way as arbitration is given its own statutory regime in Cap.110, separate legislation should be enacted to cover the administration and practice of mediation. In November 2009, I dared to draft a Mediation Bill using the Trinidad and Tobago legislation as a model.” Clearly obviously either Marston has not read, or he disagrees with, Sir David and has attempted instead to use as conferring authority on him so to do for his new Practice Directions, Part 25 of the Civil Procedure Rules. We invite Sir David to send us a copy of his draft Mediation Bill and undertake to bring it, with our comments, firmly to the attention of the AG and the public.

Hold on!

We have to ask what the PM and AG think of this latest effort to usurp the legislature’s prerogative and authority by Marston Gibson and how long they are going to allow this man to hold on to office, salary and emoluments paid by the taxpayers. We (and the legislature) have seen Gibson set himself up as the authority by which practicing certificates are issued and we have seen Gibson attempt to disbar licensed (by the legislature) attorneys by writing to all judges of the Barbados courts (which includes those of the CCJ) and all magistrates, demanding that they deny audience to a certain class of attorneys and for his pains, his instructions be ignored or refused by the judiciary. We have seen Gibson effectively disbar one attorney without due process…..and get sued personally. We have seen Gibson lecture school children on Magna Carta of 1215 (801 years old) which, at clause 40 states, “To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice,” and this is enshrined in our Constitution, yet our backlog subsists and justice is denied and delayed. Now, Gibson has attempted to put in place through practice directions that which can only be put in place statutorily. And, once again, while judges will likely refuse to implement these practice directions, if they have any sense which is debatable, they add another lair of frivolous nonsense to an already complex and costly process. Meanwhile, there are distinct (and very loud) rumblings within the legal profession and they are likely gathering themselves for a full frontal attack. As for the Nation, well you can hardly expect its reporters to do more than produce a publicity statement authored by one M. Gibson, stick in a photograph of him shaking hands with Kuman Hathiramani who is attempting to forge a source of income from mediation and, as a lawyer, must know that the new practice directions are illegal (or should know) and project the idea that Gibson has performed a legal miracle worthy of much praise, rather than a legal gaffe worthy of having his backside slung out of office.

There is no doubt that, as have been proved in Canada, there are some areas of civil law that would benefit from mandatory mediation. Family law is a very sensible area of mandatory mediation. However, mediation, whether mandatory or not, is confidential, it is not binding on the parties and it is without prejudice (which means that if it fails and the matter goes to court, the court may not know about or take into consideration anything to do with the mediation). The mediator has no decision-making power whatever and is there solely to assist the parties reach (if possible) a settlement satisfactory to them. It is highly likely and proven that ADR/mediation will work in, say, divorce cases of which there are many cluttering up the courts. But there are other cases where it simply adds to the expense and the time it takes to determine the case, without any reasonable prospect of success. Mediation can only ever work if all parties wish to mediate, rather than be mandated to mediate by the courts. Such mediations will fail and after all the time and expense, you end up right back before the courts in any case. So what Gibson is trying to do is to pass the buck.

Marston Gibson arrived in Barbados touting ADR as what one commenter has called “a universal panacea” (a phrase which we adopt with thanks) as a cure-all for the enormous backlog of cases. Now, in what must surely be the twilight of his tenure as chief justice, he seeks to garner public support to stay the advance of eternal night, by handing down illegal practice directions to try to fool the public, as he has certainly succeeded in fooling the Nation News, which isn’t at all difficult.

BU was fascinated by one of Sir David’s comments in his address of 17 October 2013. Sir David said, “In my last address to a full sitting of the Supreme Court on 5 October 2009, I warned then that the days for blaming the failure of the civil justice system on lawyers were over. If the system continues to fail, the judges will have to accept the blame.” And so will you, Sir David, have to take the blame on……..for the massive amount of political and incompetent yardfowls that YOU appointed to the Bench whose agenda is not the delivery of timely justice, but political, pension and perceived power. But you are right, Sir David, they must accept the blame, be fired (or resign) and forego their pensions as recompense for their betrayal of their country, its justice system, its finances and its people’s hopes and aspirations, not to mention their right to timely and impartial justice. You, Sir David, were constructively dismissed. Now we need your successor Marston out as quickly as possible along with, where appropriate, your incompetent appointees to the Bench.

From Magistrate to Judge, You be the Judge

Name of the author withheld by BU
Madam Justice Pamela Beckles former post vacant left vacant

Madam Justice Pamela Beckles former post vacant left vacant

I guess I am very lucky and not on remand but can anyone tell me what is the point of promoting a magistrate to a judge and not having a magistrate appointed to replace the previous one.   Admittedly mine is a civil matter but it has been adjourned from last October to January and from then no magistrate.  Where is the common sense in that ?    So we have no Chief Magistrate who could fill in either.

Something is very wrong here.

Tales from the Courts – Alair Shepherd’s Butt EXPOSED XXVIII

Denis Lowe (1) Peter Allard (r)

Denis Lowe (1) Peter Allard (r)

When can a lawyer be made liable jointly and severally for costs ordered against his client? What are the professional obligations of a lawyer and his/her responsibility to the integrity of the justice system? Update of “The Other Side of the Kingsland Estates Matter” […] Continue reading

Tales From the Courts – Bar Association Complicit XXII

Therold O'neal Fields, another thieving lawyer?

Therold O’neal Fields, another thieving lawyer? – Photo credit: Nation Newspaper

Given the fact that the Bar Association (BA) has now debunked Barry Gale as its president, the actions by the Chief Justice (CJ) in interfering in matters in which he has no authority must now raise the suspicion that the CJ’s conduct was designed to shore up Barry Gale’s position as president of the BA, given the fact that the BA is contemplating taking legal action against the CJ. Whether this was the CJ’s intent or not, is now a moot point as Barry Gale has been voted out of office and Tariq Khan into office.

BU family member Pachamama raised some interesting points recently concerning what happens to lawyers who appropriate money from clients’ funds. BU did a little research on one such case, that of attorney Therold Fields, which provides the template of how things are done in Barbados – See $700,000 theft charge.

The Disciplinary Committee of the BA referred the matter of Mr Fields to the Court of Appeal. And, predictably, in the last week or so, the Court of Appeal adjourned its hearing. Meanwhile, so far as BY can discover, no criminal proceedings for theft have been commenced by the DPP against Mr Fields. And Mr Fields continues to have the right to practice law.

Why has Mr Fields not been criminally indicted? Why has Mr Fields not been suspended from the practice of law? Why is the CJ usurping an authority that he does not have to go after attorneys who are lawfully practicing law and NOT making free with their clients’ money, but merely insisting on their right under the Constitution not to join an association?

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Tales from the Courts – No Excuses Says Former Judge XX

Retired Judge Peter Williams earns a BU star.

Retired Judge Peter Williams earns a BU star.

The idea anyone should have to spend eleven years on remand or have to wait a decade to have an appeal heard is unacceptable in any society concerned with delivering justice.  When unacceptable delays occur, and some will be justifiable,  the legal maxim justice delayed is justice denied comes into play and must be addressed with haste by a caring society.  When the person  who has to suffer the injustice is a Barbadian it makes it all the more egregious. Others may add we have a government who offered the rhetoric it is committed to build out a society rather than focused on the economy.

BU has posted exhaustively in the Tales from the Courts  about the dark side of the Barbados judiciary. Regrettably Barbadians are more concerned (if at all) with other matters. How can we have a wholesome society if we are unable to punish the guilty and protect the innocent? How we retain and compete for new business in the international sector if our judiciary is unable to rule in an efficient read timely manner.

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Tales from the Courts – Arresting the Slide XIX

.. a functioning judiciary underpins an orderly society ...

.. a functioning judiciary underpins an orderly society …

We do not accept that our judiciary is tardy or indecisive. Rather, a distinction must be made between the judiciary and the administrative aspects of the justice systemNation newspaper (June 14, 2014)

It is taboo for the local media to be hostile at the judiciary. BU has been one of the few voices highlighting glaring inefficiencies in our legal system – see Tales from the Courts. Barbados is a society that is respected by those on the outside because our attention to maintaining law and order, AND, a functioning judiciary underpins an orderly society.

Minister Donville Inniss’ public acknowledgement last week that our delinquent judiciary is affecting international investment in Barbados has come as no surprise to BU. Successive governments have allowed politics – like every other thing – to affect decision making in the judiciary. Now we have corroboration from the Minister of Commerce and International Business of situations where business is not coming to Barbados because of concerns about the judiciary. Lest we forget, attracting foreign direct investment is important to Barbados to pay our large import bill AND allows us to maintain our touted high standard of living. Our per capita income is the envy of many.

Unfortunately our leading local newspaper in its editorial quoted above felt to make the distinction between the Court Registry and the Judiciary. This is one of the reasons why Barbados continues to decline on the social and economic indicators index – the failure of the fourth estate to come to the public with clean hands. The Nation editorial conveys the notion that Chief Justice Marston Gibson and Judges have no say in the scheduling of cases and the time it takes to deliver judgements. Of course the delays is compounded by the files at the Court Registry which mysteriously go missing. Meddling by the CJ and Judges has the knock on effect of prolonging justice to those who are remanded for unacceptably long periods. How often have we posted the maxim, justice delayed is justice denied?

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Tales from the Courts – Sir Marston Gibson a FAILURE XIX

It was with more than passing interest that BU read the Nation article of 15 January 2014 entitled SLOW JUDGEMENTS HEAVILY CRITICIZED.

It is somewhat daunting to note that the Nation has only now espoused this cause as the result of cross-party agreement in the House led by former attorney general, Dale Marshall and supported by the PM and the present attorney general. This, after all, is an issue that BU – Tales from the Courts – has been resolute in airing for some years now and it appears that it is only now that a leading economist has publicly pointed out the obvious, that the demise of the justice system is almost completely responsible for the fall off and withdrawal of off-shore and foreign investment, that it now has been raised. Although, to be fair, last year in Toronto, the PM did serve notice that the justice system and courts had to be sorted out. But still his warning appears to have fallen in deaf ears and he himself has not done anything since.

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Tales From The COURTS – Part II

Madam Justice Kaye Goodridge

BU recently commenced its series, Tales From The Courts, a sort of judicial equivalent to Tales From The Crypt and equally gruesome.

We started the series in an effort to highlight a judicial system in terminal decline that lacks any credibility anywhere, a Chief Justice whose efforts to correct this are being constantly obstructed and frustrated by appointees from a previous administration and a Government that surely MUST now step in and aggressively support the Chief Justice and fire or discipline any and all who seek to obstruct him in the exercise of his office.

BU also invited private and confidential e-mails from its readers on their own experiences with the Justice System and is now following leads and verifying information on submissions. If we find there to be merit in them, we will name and shame without compunction.

We have also opted to follow up the progress of stories that we had reported on previously, but had chosen not to go into details on then, due to the fact that they were before the courts at the time. However, what we discovered dismayed the BU household to such an extent that whether or not they are before the Courts, they demonstrate a degree of incompetence by the courts that is frankly shocking. Due to this, we hold that these stories are of public interest and refuse to defer to anybody that uses convention as a shield behind which to hide their own incompetence.

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Notes From a Native Son: Is Our Judiciary Out of Control?

Hal Austin

Ever since Gary Becker won the Nobel Prize for Economics, the economic analysis of law has risen on the curriculum of the leading law schools. I am even told reliably that the Wooding School has recently introduced a financial module for young trainee lawyers. But, apart from satisfying the curiosity of those with an interest in the multi-disciplinary subject of law and economics, it is important because it focuses on the very core issues which underpin not only business law, but the very rules which act as the permafix to our social order.

Property rights, the efficiency of markets, contract law, and more have been analysed in detail ever since Ronald Coase developed his theory in his essay: The Problem of Social cost, in 1960. Since then others have entered the space, including US Federal judge Richard Posner (Economic Analysis of Law), Steven Shavell (Foundations of Economic Analysis of Law), and David D. Friedman (Law Order: An Economic Account).

Although law and economics focuses principally on the private legal system, including tort law, stretching from product liability to medical negligence, it also has a relevance on criminal law and the efficient enforcement of law as a public good. But the issue is of more than just academic interest. It is central to the uncontrollable sentencing that we see almost every day in local magistrates’ courts, the worst since the days of Guyanese Lennox Perry who sat on the bench in the 1960s. What we have now is an undeclared war on young people, black men in particular, with the passive conspiracy of the professional middle class and the rest of the judicial system.

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CJ Marston Gibson Has Mountain To Climb

Chief Justice Marston Gibson

… we have a lot of blogs [BU] on the subject, but don’t you think that two months has been enough time for the CJ to have clearly thrown down some kind of gauntlet?
…like a maximum time for a judgement to be completed or else….
…like an analysis of outstanding judgements and serious actions taken against the worse defaulters. When can we expect some kind of action? In 11 years or so…? –
Bush Tea


Barbadians who expect the job of incoming CJ to be a breeze obviously have no appreciation for the  gargantuan task which confronts the gentleman. To those who expected significant changes or announcements after two months is like turning water into wine. The Barbados Judiciary has been decaying for for several years despite plaudits and conferral of knighthoods. The yardstick to measure the efficiency of Barbados Courts must be the extent to which justice is denied because it was delayed. Palatial judicial buildings,  wig clad QCs, smooth talking Attorney Generals, comparison to other jurisdictions mean nothing unless matters are processed efficiently and justice is seemed to be done.

If the task of the CJ was one hindered by the lack of resources, financial or human, Barbadians would have cause to be optimistic. The gargantuan task becomes vivid now that the CJ has had time to appreciate that key personnel in the judiciary and support government departments lack the know how to administer the system efficiently.

Here are a few examples to assist with outlining the challenge which the CJ faces:

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Don’t You Dare Whisper Secrets In The Supreme Court Of Barbados

The Judicial Centre of Barbados

The administration of justice in Barbados has all but ground to a halt as the country waits for the roadblock which prevents Marston Gibson from taking up the position of Chief Justice of Barbados to be cleared. The Prime Minister and Attorney General are both lawyers and are aware of the issues which currently plague our system of justice. They obviously wouldn’t dare admit it publicly but they know.

One of the problems of several which lawyers of late have been concerned about is the audio recording at the Supreme Court.  It seems incredible but there you have it.  It appears  that the recording equipment is set to such a sensitive level that it even picks up whispered consultations between counsel on the same side and between counsel and clients.

Even for those who are not trained in law you  would have gleaned from Perry Mason or Matlock that disclosures between lawyer and client is governed  by the legal concept of attorney-client privilege.  To add to this betrayal of confidentiality the exchanges are then made a part of the court transcript. This is happening in the palatial environs of the Judicial Centre in Whitepark.

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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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