CJ on trial

Chief Justice (CJ) Sir Marston Gibson will face a judge in his own court next month when a hearing comes up on September 16 in a lawsuit filed by Queen’s Counsel Vernon Smith, who accused the CJ of denying him the right to work.

Smith, who is represented by Queen’s Counsel Edmund King, has alleged that the Chief Justice breached many of his fundamental constitutional and human rights by barring him from representing his client in a case which came up before Sir Marston on April 14 this year.

Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson.
Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson.

The veteran lawyer revealed that Sir Marston failed to enter an acknowledgment or file a defence in the matter, neither did he produce to Smith the reasons for refusing him a hearing.

“By not giving me a hearing, he has prevented me from earning a living; he denied me the right to work. It will be interesting the first hearing when it comes on for hearing, because I want to know what relief I can get from the court in those circumstances,” the senior attorney told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.

Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite 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 the Chief Justice 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 Leroy Parris.

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.

The prominent attorney said he had tried, and was willing to pay the subscriptions, but without the value added tax (VAT). The association had for years refused to accept subscriptions unless VAT was included.

However, Smith has been refusing to pay VAT, claiming that the Bar Association had no authority to impose such a tax, and that he would not now re-submit any fees to the association, insisting the High Court would have to make a declaration on the issue.

But the matter of annual subscriptions had received the official backing of Sir Marston long before this suit came up. In a letter dated June 19, 2014 and addressed to then association president Barry Gale, QC, the Chief Justice stressed he would instruct the then Acting Registrar of the Supreme Court Laurie-Ann Smith-Bovell to inform the attorneys listed in correspondence dated June 16, 2014 from Gale, that their practising certificates were not be valid in the absence of the subscription.

Sir Marston’s letter, a copy of which was obtained by Barbados TODAY, also stated that the acting registrar should direct those lawyers to return their practising certificates. Citing section 10 (2) of the Legal Profession Act, the head of the judiciary wrote that this section of the law “provides that no person should practice law unless he has a practising certificate.

In addition, section 45 (3) provides that a practising certificate should not be issued to an attorney-at-law until the annual subscription required by section 44 of the act has been paid.”

Sir Marston informed Gale that, accordingly, a copy of his letter would be sent to each Justice of Appeal, Judge of the High Court and Magistrate, informing them that those attorneys who had not paid their subscriptions had no right of any audience before the court.

The hearing is scheduled to begin in the High Court at 9:30 am on September 16.

5 Responses to CJ on trial

  1. Tony Webster August 19, 2015 at 6:12 am

    Please tick the appropriate box:-
    1. An issue, the resolution of which is critical of the Judicial system, which is at risk of total collapse, and therefore requires the allocation of legal and judicial resources to resolve , at the expense of other matters many years pending , whichin’ have now grown a lovely shade of green moss.
    2. A frivolous squabble amonst priviledged kids, to see who is really “boss”.
    3. An clear example of how much lawyers are in love with their bank-balances- and equally supportive of Rule of The Law.
    4. A shining, finite, example of how much respect the common man, should accord to lawyers in general.
    5. A contrived, “mock” issue, which is a a shameful and tasteless, and incontrovertible proof, m’lud, that common-sense ain’t so common after all.
    6. A pellucid re-affirmation, if not a definition, of why there are “Persians”…and “Medes”
    7.Blank box: you can do your own write-in thing.

    Yes, you can tick all the boxes, or even none at all: this is God’s free country…where nothing is free!
    Bon Bini.

  2. Brimstone August 19, 2015 at 10:11 am

    Oh hear mi lud, it is de SMITH fellow again,,,, yeah,,, from de CCJ Chief Justice reprimand,,,,,,,,, he ah look to defraud on de tax !!!!!
    Oh when will someone serve this Thomas a Becket up his rightful due ??????? it stinks of yon man’s behavior.

  3. Alex 3 August 22, 2015 at 6:17 am

    I am puzzled about this squabble between the CJ and this lawyer.
    Since when is it the role of the CJ to impose VATs on anything?
    Is this not the purview of the government?

  4. Tony Waterman August 23, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    @Alex 3!!!!! you seem to have MISONSTRUED the whole problem, the CJ (Not a big fan of mine) did NOT or has NOT and CANNOT Impose VAT on ANYONE or ANYTHING.
    The Rules are and have for aye and ever been clear to MOST LAWYERS, they MUST by LAW pay an annual Subscription to the Barbados Bar Association. this allows them to Practice Law in Barbados,
    The “”Learned “” Gentleman Mr. Smith has agreed to Pay his Subscription, but has refused to pay VAT which is added to the Cost of the subscription by the BRA. his claim is that The BAR Association has no Authority to Impose such a tax.

    This claim is rediculous, since the Bar Association has not and Did not impose any tax, as he has sais they do not have the authority to do so, in fact all they are doing is collection the tax as demanded of them by the BRA (Barbados Revenue Agency)
    He is Barking up the wrong Tree when he is going after the CJ, his Fight as i see it should be with Chris Sinckler and the MOF (Ministry of Finance) Not the CJ or the Barbados Bar Association.
    My Calculated Guess is that he will lose and cry foul for some other reason.
    everyone else have to pay VAT, so why does Queen’s Counsel Vernon Smith, thin that he should be Exempted.

  5. lizzy February 3, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    This is my fourth attempt at speaking and meeting with the Chief Justice ..even thought I have a litigation matter before a High Court Judge. So … it leaves me to think that whatever the CJ feels like doing ..only that shall he …do.


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