The country’s two most senior judicial and legal officials, Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite have filed a last-minute application in the High Court to prevent a civil suit against them from being heard.
The notice, which was lodged in the Supreme Court Registry today by attorney-at-law in the Attorney General’s Chambers Donna Brathwaite, QC comes on the eve of the start of hearing in the civil suit filed several months ago by Queen’s Counsel Vernon Smith, who is accusing the Chief Justice of denying him the right to work.
The Attorney General has also been named in the lawsuit, which arose out of the Chief Justice’s decision to prevent Smith from practising law in Barbadian courts because he had not paid his annual subscription to the Barbados Bar Association.
The lawyer claimed that Sir Marston effectively disbarred him without due process after Smith was prevented from acting on behalf of Branlee Consulting Incorporated on April 14, a company owned by former CLICO executive
Smith is also seeking damages and is demanding that the Chief Justice gives his reasons in writing for refusing to hear him when he tried to represent his client.
But Donna Brathwaite is urging the court to strike out the claim and award the defendants costs “in any event.”
In outlining the grounds on which her clients are relying, she gave three reasons for stating that the case filed by Smith on May 14, 2015 was an abuse of process of the court.
Brathwaite submitted that an appeal against a decision or ruling made by a judge of the High Court ought to be made to the Court of Appeal; that the claimant has failed to show on what law or rules of the Supreme Court his claim is grounded, and that the Chief Justice is not a proper party to the proceedings.
Smith was served with legal papers today, notifying him that the application to strike out his case was set to be heard on January 27, 2016 starting at 9.30 am. Smith is represented by Queens’ Counsel Edmund King and Hal Gollop.
Asked if his client’s case would now be put on hold until this new matter was determined, Gollop said he would wait for the judge’s decision tomorrow.
In a recent interview with Barbados TODAY, Smith said he had tried, and was willing to pay the subscriptions, but minus the value added tax (VAT) because, he said, the Bar Association was not qualified to collect the tax.
Since then he has said he would let the court make a ruling on whether it is required to pay VAT to the Bar Association.