Opposition Leader Mia Mottley is yet to publicly respond to recent suggestions that she is not properly certified to practise law in Barbados.
However, in a detailed public statement today, prominent attorney-at-law and Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) stalwart Sir Henry Forde, QC, spoke out in her defence, following comments made by Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite and two other senior Cabinet ministers during the recent Budget debate.
In his statement, Sir Henry admitted that Mottley did not attend any of the law schools in the Caribbean administered by the Council of Legal Education, prior to being admitted to the Bar of Barbados. However, he strongly argued that this fact did not preclude her from practising law in the region.
“Such attendance was NOT necessary at the time. It was NOT a pre-condition to the right to practise,” argued Sir Henry.
He pointed out that “Schedule 2 to the Legal Profession Act applies to her and permitted her to practise in Barbados without having to do any prescribed course of study at a law school in the region.
“It should also be noted that pursuant to the same rules of the Council of Legal Education, Miss Mottley has been admitted to practise in the jurisdictions of St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines,” he added.
Sir Henry said he felt duty bound “to lay to rest any imputation that Miss Mottley is not properly admitted to the Bar” since he was one of two persons who had recommended her for membership of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple and had subsequently introduced her to the Bar of Barbados – the other being the Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, the father of Barbados’ independence.
“The facts are that Miss Mottley was admitted at the age of 21 years old to the Utter Bar of England and Wales on the 23rd July, 1987 and to the Utter Bar of Barbados in December 1987 and, thereafter, at the age of 36, to the Inner Bar of Barbados in February 2002,” said Sir Henry.
He therefore said it was “regrettable” that the imputation had been made that “the persons who were involved in ensuring that she was a fit and proper person, and appropriately qualified, to be admitted to the Utter Bar either failed in their duty or misled the Bar”.
Sir Henry made specific mention of the then Registrar of the Supreme Court Marie MacCormack, who would have been responsible for preparing the file and noting any irregularities for then Chief Justice Sir Denys Williams.
“It was the duty of the Chief Justice to ensure that the applicant meets the legal requirements for admission to the Bar,” said Sir Henry, adding that “if there was any doubt he would have referred the matter to then Attorney General and Leader of the Bar, Sir Maurice King, QC.”
While noting that questions had also been raised during the recent Budget by Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe and Minister of Transport Michael Lashley, Sir Henry took particular issue with the comments made by the Attorney General, who had promised to launch a probe into Mottley’s legal certification.
“The Honourable Attorney General is the Leader of the Bar of Barbados and is Parliament’s and Government’s principal legal advisor. In addition, he is the guardian of the public interest and invariably moves the admission of young attorneys to practise in Barbados.
“It is therefore in the public interest that the outcome of this investigation is publicly revealed so that any slur cast against the late Chief JusticeSir Denys Williams, the former Attorney General Sir Maurice King, and the former Registrar, Madame Marie MacCormack, and of course Miss Mottley and myself, may be removed,” added Sir Henry.