It is not every day that a High Court Judge in Barbados is verbally attacked by a senior practitioner in the judicial system.
However, today, Justice Olson Alleyne was on the receiving end of a severe tongue-lashing from prominent Queen’s Counsel Vernon Smith for the judge’s ruling last Friday in the lawsuit brought by Member of Parliament for Christ Church West Dr Maria Agard against the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
Agard had challenged her expulsion from the Mia Mottley-led BLP two years ago on the grounds that it was in breach of natural justice.
In dismissing the suit, Alleyne was particularly critical of the way in which Agard’s legal team led by Hal Gollop, QC, had filed their client’s claim, noting that the suit was lodged against the wrong persons, on the wrong fix date claim form, in the wrong way.
While ruling that there was no cause of action against the defendants, Mia Mottley in her capacity as chairman of the BLP and Dr Jerome Walcott as general secretary, the judge also suggested that Agard could refile the case, omitting the multiple flaws in the process.
This had led to a stinging rebuke by Smith, who described the judge’s decision as “vicious”.
“This is the most vicious thing I have ever come across by a judge,” the senior attorney told Barbados TODAY.
“How can you ask someone to refile a case when you ruled there is no cause of action . . . and that you sued the wrong parties?”
Smith appeared to carry a grudge against the judge, whom he claimed had yet to deliver a decision in a land sale purchase case which ended over ten years ago, on July 31, 2007.
Without providing too many details, Smith said it involved real estate at South Ridge, Christ Church.
“This is the kind of thing we got to deal with,” emphasized the Queen’s Counsel, who is also awaiting a decision in a separate civil suit which he brought against Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson.
Smith has sued the Chief Justice, accusing him of disbarring him without due process.
Sir Marston had refused to allow Smith to represent former CLICO boss Leroy Parris on April 17, 2015 on the ground that the senior lawyer had not paid his annual subscription fees to the Bar Association.
Gollop, who is representing Smith in the case against the Chief Justice, declined to comment on Alleyne’s ruling against Agard, stating only that anything he had to say would be more appropriately submitted before the Court of Appeal, a suggestion that he planned to appeal the ruling.
Mere hours after the High Court threw out her legal challenge to her November 22, 2015 expulsion from the Opposition party, Agard had said she was not ruling out the possibility of refiling the case.
However, she said her final decision on whether to sue the BLP all over again would be made in conjunction with her family and her attorneys.
In a three-page press release issued by attorney-at-law Lynette Eastmond, who had been assisting Gollop in fighting the case, Agard pointed to Page 49 of the 50-page judgment, which said: “Striking out the claim would not deprive the claimant of her access to the court or bestow any windfall on the defendants. The claimant may make a fresh start with these procedural flaws behind her.”
In his ruling, Justice Alleyne ordered Agard to pay yet-to-be-determined costs to the attorneys representing both Mottley and Dr Walcott.