Don’t shoot the messenger!
Well–known attorney, David Comissiong has blasted Prime Minister Freundal Stuart and AttorneyGeneral Adriel Brathwaite for what he believed were “veil” threats directed at judges in the Supreme Court.
Comissiong said his impression of comments made in Parliament by the Prime Minister, the Attorney General and Member of Parliament for St Joseph, Dale Marshall, was that the delays in the legal system were the fault of “dysfunctional or non-functioning Supreme Court judges” but in his opinion the sentiment was totally unjustified.
“Prime Minister Stuart suggests that when he was called to the Bar in 1984, and for some period of time subsequent to 1984, Barbados had good and efficient judges. Well if that was the case, are we to believe that our judges just suddenly and inexplicably declined in quality?” he asked.
“This simplistic reasoning does not make sense. It is not a good idea for Members of Parliament – even exalted ones like the Prime Minister and the Attorney General, to use the privileged position that speaking from the floor of the House of Assembly confers upon them to make veiled and not so veiled threats to or at judges of the Supreme Court of Barbados.
“I would also like to caution both the Prime Minister and the Attorney General to ensure that they make the correct diagnosis of the problem with our legal system before committing themselves to remedies, for if the diagnosis is wrong the remedies will be wrong as well.”
The President of the Clement Payne Movement further defended the judges at the Supreme Court. He described them as “extremely diligent and hardworking” when carrying out “very heavy case loads”. He suggested rather than blame the officers of the state for the Court’s delays in the execution of justice in Barbados, the fault should rest in the new system which, he said, has caused a plethora of nonessential delays.
Comissiong said: “One of the first things I would look at is the new Civil Procedure Rules. As far as I can see, the new Civil Procedure Rules that we adopted a few years ago have done nothing but unduly complicate and frustrate the process of Civil litigation in our country. Things that could have been accomplished under the ‘old’ rules with a single procedure now often take three or four procedures or hearings.
“In fact, the new rules have served to unload a multiplicity of unnecessary procedures and hearings on the backs of our judges and our attorneys-at-law for that matter.
“I would also take a close look at recent changes to long-standing procedures at the Registry of the Supreme Court. Many things that were handled in a simple and straight forward manner in the ‘old’ days have now been unnecessarily complicated and bureaucratized.
“So, let us not indulge in the old, well-established Barbadian practice of scape-goating easy and convenient targets. “Let us instead resolve to be truly perceptive and diligent in getting to the real root of the problem and then go on to actually fix it,” he urged.