Lawyers Continue to Laugh at We

A few weeks ago Chief Justice Patterson Cheltenham revealed that after a ‘dig’ 70 matters were discovered lying idle in the court system. In other words, some lawyers are filing a notice of appeal and leaving the matter in abeyance without active follow up to activate the matter therefore adding to the burgeoning case load. When the matter is called by the Court of Appeal, according to the Chief Justice, the lawyer filing the notice is sometimes a no show and in many cases fail to also apprise lawyers representing the respondents.

Barbados Underground has been a strident voice over the years in the call for the Barbados court system to get its act together in order to deliver on the maxim – “justice delayed is justice denied”. Chief Justice Patterson Cheltenham was appointed from being active as a lawyer and should be aware of the gaming methods lawyers co-opt to frustrate the system. It is disappointing after all the years of criticism Cheltenham’s predecessors were unaware of the unethical practice by lawyers – legal officers of the Court – to file ‘empty’ notices of appeal.

Do we need to remind lawyers in Barbados that as legal officers of the Barbados Court they are saddled with the awesome responsibility of delivering quality justice? The inability of the court system to dispense justice has obvious implications for the quality of life in the society. To have to listen to the Attorney General and his predecessors express frustration with a court system about to crash under its weight is an embarrassment.

Kudos to the Chief Justice for identifying an issue to be solved. As usual what was left hanging is how lawyers engaged in depositing empty ‘matters’ in the court system will be disciplined. These lawyers are being dishonest and unethical in behaviour and should have to suffer disciplinary action. A part of the problem with rising crime and lawlessness in Barbados is the slow pace justice is administered, it also has implications for the international business sector to ensure speedy resolution to matters.

The blogmaster is aware the government has allocated monies to install additional judges. What good will come of it if key stakeholders in the system; lawyers deliberately frustrate efficiency by the court by clogging up the system with nuisance matters, are no shows, missing files at the Registry etc? It begs the question what motivates the behaviour. The blogmaster believes some lawyers see financial reward operating in an inefficient court system. 

Barbadians at home and in the diaspora have reached the limit of understanding why year after year we have been unable to improve the justice system. A bit of advice to the government, Attorney General, Chief Justice, Registrar of the Court, Barbados Bar Association, Disciplinary Committee, lawyers, police – time to start adhering to the highest ethical standards you have sworn to uphold on behalf of the clients who PAY YOU. If we do not we ALL will have to live in the type of society that evolves.

To Chief Justice Patterson Cheltenham, Lawlessness in OUR Judiciary

Submitted by Cherfleur

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

Ephesians 6.4

My personal journey (5 years) through the labyrinth of the judiciary. Nine judges and a plethora of Attorneys, yet I was forced to take charge and plead my case myself.

When we hear the word law we think of order and justice and civility and fairness not so with the judiciary. On the contrary my experience is that this institution the Police and the Public Service is that the officials practice wanton lawlessness of a kind that is unimaginable. Contemptible, because no one manages the Judges (it seems), after they are appointed they act recklessly breaking much of the rules and in so doing disrespecting and disenfranchising the very people they are appointed to serve justice to.

First judge: included in her Order the directive for me to seek advice from an Attorney before the next date. She meant, retain the services of… She did not provide me with a Proforma Invoice so I wrote the CJ (and subsequently the AG) asking what that was all about. He forwarded the correspondence to the Judge. She convened a hearing and recused herself. BUT… she held on to the file ​for five months. ​All the asking and pleading to the Registry staff was to no avail. So I wrote her and gently reminded her that she had the file and it was needed in the Court Registry. Nothing until I began to bang and beat and whip. She released the file. ​FIVE months had elapsed.​ That’s the average time for a decision. This is the face of justice. Not to mention that it breaches my constitutional rights to a speedy outcome. Madam was quite assured that normally no one would dare approach her for the file so my case, like so many before (especially those handled by an Attorney) would have been left high and dry in her possession until the cows come home. This madam justice is not upholding her oath. That was a wicked act. Either Madam Justice was trying to hide her foul or was protecting BCC.

Judges are identifying errors n shortcomings in claims and presenting cases to support (ironically the represented) litigant. The Litigant’s Kit state that Litigants are supposed to ask for all they require in their Application for Orders and present all the authorities they intended to use to argue their position. Judges are only supposed to examine, access and weigh the information presented and bring a decision.That’s no justice. They’re making mock sport. There is no impartiality and whomever a judge fancies that’s who he will search for cases to assist.

Next judge: case adjourned on February 25th for a decision but she returns without the decision on March 3rd. Couldn’t find the file and I had to wait while she sent her Clerk some place to look for the file but the file was right there and I am waiting. Awed by the level of don’t care a damn inefficiency at such a high level. More submissions and the matter was again adjourned for decisions – no date. For those of you who might not know, decisions are due in three months and the CCJ sometime not so long ago decreed that the maximum time a judge should take was 6 months or off of the bench. Her parting words were xxxxx, I will call you. There was the lockdown for 10 weeks then that blanket was lifted. Yet as of September end there was no word and no decision. Six and out. This character too is full of wry comments and corny jokes. Not quite what you go to court for.

What the hell is going on?

The 2nd highest institution in the land and this open inefficiency and callousness for order and the rule of law and people’s rights permeates like what is to be a norm.

Next judge: Adjourned for decision on October 28 2019, and returned in January without the decision. No problem. Perhaps he needed more information. But alas that was not the case. Another adjournment to April 1. Then there was the lockdown. As of October end there was no decision. Again I had to be whipping and banging the drums to get these learned people moving. The judge above brought her decision but this naughty naughty judge still didn’t bring his. Only when I wrote the Commissioner to the RBPF on November 27, 2020 asking permission to stage a Rally to air my grievances with the judiciary did the Registry call and inform me on Tuesday December 1, 2020 that this 3rd recalcitrant will will deliver the decision on Wednesday December 2, 2020 at 9.15 am; less than 24 hours notice. Six and out!

Are we there yet? No. Far from it.

These officers are acting without impunity. There is no oversight of their behaviour. Once appointed they are there for life (?) and since the system is so broke they act like demi-gods. Effectually, they are godless and shameless. They don’t care …and no one seems to care about the ‘minions’ who bring cases to that institution expecting fairness and impartiality and swiftness of judgement. The very minions whose taxes it is that pay the judges’ salaries are who the judges exhibit scant regard for. No one cares about the quality of justice as in the length of time it takes to complete and deliver decisions. No one cares about how the delays affect the litigants. No one cares about the level of production output, or they don’t know of such concepts (in the public service). This is sick.

This cannot go on continuously. It is rancid. It is not that there are so many cases in the system it is, as per my experience, that the judges assume the posture of omnipotence; until someone comes along who whips and bangs ‘drums’. They are lazy and in some cases nasty (vindictive).

There must be a Commission convened to look into how long judges take to complete each case. Barbados cannot be serious about progress and development and encouraging people to come here from more advanced realms and the most important institution to protect them and process their business is the one raping them of their rights.

The CCJ said 6 or you’re out.

The Public Service now, BCC and CBC, (ICBL), FSC, FTC, CLA and Public Counsel and the Police all are running into one another and doing very little that is effective.

Public Counsel, a part of the Attorney General’s office, offers legal advice to persons who have disagreements of a commercial/Consumer nature and where the claims are equal to or valued below $10,000.

FTC provides representation for matters of a commercial nature too to those who do not want or cannot afford an Attorney. Community Legal Aid Services provide Attorneys to represent persons who cannot afford one.

BCC’s management does not know that their Handbook is forming a contract between them and the students. BCC breaks graduation requirements, their own rules and Consumer Guarantees (those rights accorded to consumers once entered into a relationship with a service provider).

CBC does not know (it seems ) that Pension is not Insurance. CBC is administering a pension plan and allowing persons who are not dependants to be named as Beneficiaries and broadcasting that a named beneficiary is final.

ICBL too, is adamant that a named beneficiary to a Pension Plan (a Revocable Trust) is final. Lawyers too are advising that a named beneficiary (to a Pension) is final -get this – because the Insurance Act of 1997 so states. Thus irrespective of the date the would-be insurance policy was effected no one pays attention to that minute ​detail and everyone says ipso facto​. No one (outside of FSC) it seems, is aware that Pension is not Insurance and in fact has a dedicated Act: Occupational Pensions Benefits Act 350B. Twenty years arguing with Attorneys in Barbados until I kicked it, held the bull by the horn and faced the steam on my own. There are those Attorneys who try to defend indefensible cases. In 2020 we have an Attorney, two in fact, who prepared and argued a Pension Benefit aged 1994 with the Insurance Act which was effective as of 1997 (then pulls a time-trick). What goes? What is Cave Hill spitting out? What a scholastic shame.

After one year, FSC is unable/willing to provide information required as per the Rights to Information Act and the very Pension Benefit act. FSC is not supervising and investigating or training the agencies it is mandated to oversee effectively. Perhaps no one else ever understood Trusts and Pensions and challenged the anomalies. God forbid if there were other dependents not named and thus were robbed of their inheritances because the agencies charged with the administration and supervision of the same do not know their product and what they are doing.