Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Bar’s okay

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IN A SURPRISE MOVE, the Barbados Bar Association has thrown its support behind Government’s plan to amend the law that would give the green light for the appointment of United States-based jurist Marston Gibson to become Barbados’ next Chief Justice.
In a move that contradicted a position taken a few weeks ago, the Bar Association in a Press statement yesterday said it supported the proposed amendment of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act.
“We will not, however, be drawn into the current debate [of] whether or not the legislation should be amended to accommodate the appointment of any particular person.
“The more important issue is whether the current legislation as drafted is in the public interest,” the release said.
The statement is a reversal of previous positions taken by the association’s new president Andrew Pilgrim and immediate past presidentLeslie Haynes,QC.
Pilgrim, in an interview with the SUNDAY SUN three weeks ago, said it would be wrong to amend the law to facilitate Gibson’s appointment, adding that “it looks funny when you do something like what we are doing now.”
When contacted last night about the Bar’s turnaround, Pilgrim told the DAILY NATION: “The council and membership of the Bar appeared to be divided on the issue of whether this law should be changed to accommodate one man.
“There is no objection to Marston Gibson the candidate. It is however clear there are other larger issues which the Bar has agreed on.”
On the eve of the association’s last elections, then president Haynes, who did not seek re-election, also voiced his concerns on the subject, charging that Government would have breached the law if they amended the legislation to assist any particular individual.
However, the Bar in its statement described the current legislation as “unduly restrictive” and not in the public interest.
Under the current law, an applicant must have practised law in the Commonwealth to be eligible for appointment as either Chief Justice or a judge of the Court of Appeal.
“We are also of the opinion that this restriction is an anomaly which could well serve to disqualify eminently suitable persons from holding such office without good and sufficient reason,” it added.
The amendment of the act will be read a first time in the House of Assembly today. It is expected the Opposition will not support the amendment.

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