CCJ criticizes Judiciary and lawyers for excessive delays

Accusing the judiciary in Barbados of not delivering justice in a timely manner, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has strongly condemned the local courts’ “excessive and inordinate” delays in resolving cases.

But the Trinidad-based court reserved even harsher words for prominent Barbadian Queen’s Counsels Vernon Smith and Hal Gollop as well as their associate Steve Gollop, charging them with abusing the judicial process.

Hal Gollop, QC
Hal Gollop, QC
Vernon Smith, QC


Those criticisms were leveled by CCJ president Justice Sir Dennis Byron yesterday, in a judgment in which the regional court dismissed a case brought by the three lawyers. The case surrounded a land deal that went sour and was brought by Smith, Gollop and Gollop on behalf of land developer Systems Sales Ltd, against Arletta Brown-Oxley, the executrix of the estate of now deceased Glenfield DaCosta Suttle and his widow Sonja Patsena Suttle.

On January 12, 2015, the legal team filed an application asking the CCJ to give them time to file a notice of appeal against earlier decisions of the High Court and the Court of Appeal in Barbados which went in favour of the Suttles.

In November last year, the CCJ delivered a similar ruling in this matter, but it was later refiled by the lawyers who protested that the judgment was published in the media before being communicated to the litigants and their legal representatives.

In yesterday’s rejection of the application for leave, the panel of judges said it took the Barbados courts 16 years to resolve this matter, but noted the regional court was able to return judgment within six months on the grounds that the application had no realistic chance of succeeding at appeal.

But the CCJ accused the attorneys of seeking to further deny the respondents their rightful due, even after a protracted delay in the local courts.

In delivering the decision on behalf of the panel, Sir Dennis said the trio sought leave to appeal the earlier ruling although there was no realistic chance of success.

“Something must be done to correct this harm to litigants. The court has usually commented on the judicial default in this area and, in this case, the judiciary has to accept responsibility for the inordinate delay in bringing this case to justice,” the CCJ ruled.

It noted that the matter was not a complex one, yet it took seven years from filing to judgment and eight years from trial judge to appellate judgment.

“This is a process which should take no more than two and a half years. It is time that the judiciary in Barbados adopt practices that prevent this type of denial of justice.”

The court added that all parties, including the applicant, were being prejudiced.

“In this case where the CCJ has already ruled that there is no merit in the appeal, it is unconscionable that the litigant should be burdened with expenses when there is no reasonable expectation of any benefit accruing. It would not be fair to the applicant for the court to allow expenses to accrue when it is already known that there is no realistic chance of success,” the judgment stated.

The court also contended that the conduct in bringing the case, using a wrong process, and having no realistic chance of success, fell into the category of improper, unreasonable and negligent conduct.

In dismissing the case and making an order for wasted costs, the CCJ ruled that there be no further proceedings in this matter without leave of the tribunal.

After the CCJ’s first ruling on the matter in November 2014 which he called unjust, Queen’s Counsel Gollop strongly advised other countries that have not joined on to the CCJ to stay away from the regional court.

11 Responses to LEGAL KNOCKS

  1. NAKED DEPARTURE - The Trilogy Series
    NAKED DEPARTURE - The Trilogy Series February 14, 2015 at 2:42 am

    EXCELLENT decision by the CCJ! Now, if only you could get Bajans to improve and do away with their evil ways…..

  2. Peggy Stoute Morin
    Peggy Stoute Morin February 14, 2015 at 7:33 am

    If only the Caribbean Court of Justice operated the Barbados judicial system we might actually get some things done in Barbados. They amount to nothing but a bunch of time wasters. It is unconscionable what goes on in the legal system in Barbados

  3. dwayne jordan February 14, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Justice delayed is justice denied,,I really hope the BLP and DLP can both clearly state their intentions to reign in the justice system, from bad lawyers to slow process, (judges,magistrates, dpp et al),

  4. Tom Boot February 14, 2015 at 9:06 am

    This is surely a synopsis of the lawyers in Barbados who use the courts to frustrate people in seeking redress in matter pertaining to them and their families for alleged wrong doings.

  5. bajanguyster February 14, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Mr gollop you mean stay a way from lawyers …95% OF THE LAWYERS HERE ONLY THINK ABOUT MONEY the ccj is so right in what it said…

  6. Asiba February 14, 2015 at 10:07 am

    We have a lot of wicked people in this country who are still in slave master and House Slave mode. Something must be done. Stop treating Barbadians bad.

  7. Asiba February 14, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Look Dwayne Jordan , the people must do something about this situation

  8. Tony Webster February 14, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Our C.C.J. Chief Justice is right. He is also truthful. He remembers his oath of his office. He tells The Truth; The Whole Truth; and Nothing But The Truth. So Help Us All God.
    As to The rest of dem masqueraders…let them enjoy “the carnival”… while they may. If they wheels of justice do not catch them here, those in another heavenly place, surely will. They (not all admitted to the bar, just the miscreants)… Have lost credibility..and more importantly…what we colloquially call “shame”.
    Thanks be to you, your Lordship.

  9. Stephen Lovell February 15, 2015 at 2:03 am


    Sir Dennis, thanks you very much.

  10. Brimstone February 16, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    It is amazing that three grown and very educated individuals could set out to be so wicked…… “law”, reasonable means reasonable, not the terribly long time these monsters took.
    The totality of circumatances, shows then to be no better than the criminals they have sworn to protect the society against.
    The CCJ has restored a bit of honor.

  11. janette Holder February 16, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    The big boys in the legal system are in hot water


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