Two bajan lawyers say they are flabbergasted by CCJ’s latest ruling

A prominent Barbadian Queen’s Counsel has strongly advised other countries that have not joined on to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to stay away from the regional court.

Vernon Smith today advised Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries not to follow the lead of Barbados, Guyana and Belize in making the CCJ their final court of appeal.

And while he was not as candid, fellow Queen’s Counsel Hal Gollop admitted to having reservations about Barbados’ highest court.

Smith and Gollop were prompted to express their concerns about the Trinidad-based court following yesterday’s CCJ ruling in a land dispute in which the two senior attorneys, along with Steve Gollop, represented land developer Stanton Gittens – a decision they considered unjust.

Queen’s Counsels Hal Gollop (left) and Vernon Smith (right) are upset that the CCJ has dismissed their latest application.
Queen’s Counsels Hal Gollop (left) and Vernon Smith (right) are upset that the CCJ has dismissed their latest application.

“It costs the Government something like over US$10 million a year for that court, and my advice is that none of the other islands should join it,” an upset Smith told Barbados TODAY in an interview at which Gollop was also present.

“I don’t think any other Caribbean country, from [the court’s] performance up to now, particularly since the retirement of [first CCJ president] Justice [Michael] de la Bastide, should join it. Justice de la Bastide was a leading light in the whole justice system in the Caribbean.”

The attorneys, representing Gittens, had applied to the CCJ for special leave to appeal two earlier decisions of the High Court and the Court of Appeal in Barbados, which went in favour of Glenfield and Patsena Suttle who had agreed to sell land to Gittens so he could develop it and then reconvey it to them.

In dismissing the application, the CCJ explained that “the parties to this Barbadian matter entered into a contract to buy and sell a parcel of land identified on a proposed sub-division plan, but did not attach any plan”.

It went on to say that the resulting issue was that the purchaser, an experienced land developer, sought the CCJ’s appellate jurisdiction to order the Suttles, an elderly couple, to honour their obligations under the contract relying on one plan while the vendors insisted they agreed to another.

However, Gollop recalled that towards the end of yesterday’s sitting of the CCJ, he had intervened to tell the court that he considered its decision to be “wholly absurb”, given his client’s right of appeal.

  The two senior attorneys also contend that if the CCJ had taken their submissions into consideration it would not have come to its conclusion.

They say the trial judge erred in finding that permission was granted to the Suttles to sub-divide the land into 13 lots since the couple’s plan was only “an application” and “not an approved plan” by the Chief Town Planner. They further contend that the plan was not one for which permission had been granted.

Therefore, the Suttles’ plan could not be referrable to the executed agreement because that plan comprised 13 lots compared to the 18 specified under the executed agreement.

The lawyers for Gittens are also disappointed that if, as the court found, there was no agreement between the Suttles and their client, then he should have been given back at least his deposit, a matter which the trial judge had said was be raised at a later date.

Upset about the decision, Smith said it was not the first occasion he had problems with the regional court, adding that it paid no regard to the legal team’s submissions in reaching its decision to dismiss the application.

Both he and Gollop told Barbados TODAY that up to this afternoon when the interview was conducted, the CCJ had not communicated its decision to them even though it published a media release on the matter.

They insisted that the normal practice for any court was to first inform counsel involved in a case of a decision before making it public.

Gollop said the court had promised to provide the team with its judgment and its reasons.

“So counsel were flabbergasted when counsel found out that an organ of the Caribbean Court of Justice has made a media release of the decision and its reasons, which to this day have not been communicated to counsel,” he said.

Further addressing the court’s approach, Smith described as very irregular and improper the omission of his name from the media release which the CCJ distributed, while Gollop felt that reference to him as Hal Gollop, omitting his QC title, was an insult.

Both attorneys said the local courts did not treat senior counsel in such a way and they called on the CCJ to make a public apology to them and Barbadians.


7 Responses to Unjust!

  1. Anna Bovell
    Anna Bovell November 27, 2014 at 6:38 am

    This is absolute Garbage the Judges in the Privy Council have already told the Caribbean that they do NOT want to hear our cases anymore, we need our own court and all we are doing is wasting THEIR time. Have some flipping Pride and stand up like damn people. They dare to treat you like that after all you did for their economy and you would suggest to continue running back to them begging like we can’t do for yourselves. Stop playing the blasted fool … the CCJ is our creation put your backs to the task and make it work. It is ours it must be build it . What are you going to do…. wait till the Privy Council says “Enough ” “No More” and the final “Don’t Come Back !” ?? I don’t know what it is whats wrong with Caribbean People . I cannot decipher whether its a shackled mind , lack of vision , a subconsciously active agenda to promote disunity or just plain stupidity. Stick together and make that damn court work , half of us aren’t even it . The Caribbean must be the only place in the world where every island is so flipping alike and so hell bent on fighting to F.A.I.L alone to say “ALL BY MYSELF! “

  2. Santini More
    Santini More November 27, 2014 at 8:16 am

    These old male lawyers lost their case and so they want to kick down the stumps and take home their bat and ball…Get over it! You lost the damned case, that is no reason to try to undermine the whole CCJ.

  3. Rawle Agard
    Rawle Agard November 27, 2014 at 10:26 am

    The only people that feel you get justice in a court is the same Lawyers when the late Prime Minister tell you to keep out of the courts.They now feel the pinch others have been feeling it every since. Get real.

  4. Dacachi November 27, 2014 at 11:46 am

    The irony of their stance is that the CCJ only confirmed what the local courts had already decided…….so I guess we should get rid of the local courts. Just another example of a certain section of the populace believing and behaving as if all rights and privileges belong to them

  5. Patrick Blackman November 27, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Get a grip, you failed your client move on now.

  6. Carl Harper November 27, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    Would they have said the same if they had lost before the Privy Council?

  7. ERROLL BYER December 7, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Slippery!Slippery!Slope!!!-The vitriol with which these Learned QC’S, are being verbally castigated, by many of the above respondents, gives me great reason ”for pause”!!–These ”Goodly Gentlemen”, I am sure, are responding, in good faith, in the ”heat of the battle”, after having been ruled against, in a case where they obviously felt that their client was not properly served by the court!! I would have been ”mortified”, had they not shown that level of zeal for, and disappointment at the ruling of the CCJ! Rightly, or wrongly!! —–COME ON NOW!!!!–These are our legal luminaries, and are entitled to all of the respect, generally accorded, to our fellow human beings, our professionals, and other professionals of that persuasion, vintage, and status!!!—Nothing less should be expected, and nothing less should be tolerated, at anytime, by anyone,Period!!!–These LEARNED GENTLEMEN, did not wake up one morning and find their titles, reputations, and exemplary records attached to their, very beings, but instead, they have been earned, due to the dint of hard work, sweat, and sometimes, tears!!—They therefore, deserve, and demand respect!!—-All other aspects of the presentations, to me, are subject to vigorous discussions, concerning the merits, or lack thereof, concerning the CCJ!!——Barbados, Guyana, and Belize, and their legal counsels, should be admired, and lauded, for having the, courage, and fortitude to be the pioneers, in getting that Court to fruition, and its present status!!—Other regional member state, should ‘de-umbilicate’ from the Privi Council, in the ”mother country”, and accept the CCJ, as the final arbiter of our legal disputes!! These QC’S, I am certain, both hold that view, thus the reason that the Barbados Legal Community, has so quickly embraced, and accept the Court’s finding as final, albeit criticized, at times, by one side or the other!!–Perfectly normal!!–No one wants to lose, and should always be, and appear to be, working in the best interest for his client!!–No matter what!!–The comment made by Attorney Smith, is definitely understandable, considering the seeming lack of enthusiasm, for the institution , by the other regional States!!–These three member states, cannot, by themselves, sustain the ”flavor” of the court, thereby making its rulings, much less impactful, in the region than they ought to be!!–The time has come, to get all hands on board, as member States, and not be ”PAUPERS”, with cups in hands, kneeling at the backdoor, of the ”MOTHER COUNTRY’S”, PRIVY COUNCIL!!From which we have already been ”booted”!!—Only then, can we be really proud, of having ”truly ARRIVED”!!—PEACE, AND BE BLESSED, MY FRIENDS!!


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