Poor judgment

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.


27 Responses to Poor judgment

  1. luther thorne January 2, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    This part of the new thing where are not afraid to criticize people who believe that they are gods and want to lord over people.

  2. luther thorne January 2, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    This is part of the ‘new thing’ where persons are not afraid to criticize snd challenge people in authority who believe that they are gods and want to lord over others. Barbados needs a Purging- a good dose of Castor oil.

  3. Ali Baba
    Ali Baba January 3, 2018 at 1:27 am


  4. Harry January 3, 2018 at 5:56 am

    Smith should the last one to criticize a Judge.

    • Fiona Waldron January 3, 2018 at 6:10 am

      Didn’t the CCJ rake Smith over the coals in more recent times?

  5. hcalndre January 3, 2018 at 6:46 am

    It looks like Smith has a beef with this judge and is looking for sympathy more than justice for Agard and her team. Its about time that true justice prevail in Barbados and not friendship and as the PM believe he is above the law because he is PM.

  6. BIG SKY January 3, 2018 at 6:47 am

    The lawyers love you Maria Agard.I bet they will be pushing for you to resume action against the BLP, but when you get the chance,PLEASE HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH YOUR POCKET.

  7. John Nicholls
    John Nicholls January 3, 2018 at 7:23 am

    THIS is poor judgement and in my view most inappropriate. I’m sure there’s still recourse to aggrieved parties for decisions they disagree with.

  8. Patrick January 3, 2018 at 7:43 am

    Big sky, Fiona, hcalandre and Harry…… political fools

  9. harry turnover January 3, 2018 at 7:53 am

    Is this the same Vernon Smith the brother of “Joe Physics ” whose wife was murdered sometime ago ?
    …and is this the SAME Hal Gollop that is representing Vernon Smith in that case against the C J ?

    • Vernie January 3, 2018 at 11:59 am

      yes it is. and was he not hauled over the coals for that?

  10. Carson C. Cadogan January 3, 2018 at 8:11 am

    The case needs to be taken to the CCJ .

    This is why the CCJ is always hammering the Bajan Judiciary. Questionable local judgements.

  11. havelearnt January 3, 2018 at 8:18 am

    My 3 score years and ten have taught me that the 4 ‘positions’ you don’t mess with are judges, customs officers, immigration offcers and policemen. You don’t know when you will ever have to face them again.

  12. Sue Donym January 3, 2018 at 8:29 am

    A very revealing judgement which has implications about the quality of the legal representation!
    How much confidence has this inspired in the chairmanship of the Employment Rights Tribunal?

    • Carson C. Cadogan January 3, 2018 at 10:53 am

      It took him 2 long years to say that it was on the wrong form and other goobledygook Something that should have taken 24 to 48 hours to spot if indeed it is correct.

      I want a CCJ opinion on this matter.

      • Sue Donym January 3, 2018 at 3:16 pm

        Hi, @Carson C. Cadogan. do you take issue with the length of time or with the substance of the ruling? If it’s with the length of time, you’ll have a lot more to protest. Just over a year and a half is like the Flash in local legal history. If it’s with the points ruled on, maybe Dr Agard’s counsel have much more to answer for than you’re thinking.
        Three lawyers, at least two of them with some experience in the workings of political parties, and so many flaws? They should know the party structure and function, and thus legally who is responsible for what. At the worst, they also had over a year to spot the errors and amend. Heads the BLP win, tails you lose!

  13. Sam Clarke January 3, 2018 at 9:44 am

    This has always been the problem in courts of justice in Barbados. They take decades to render simple decisions on legal matters. This clog up the court system, and as a results you get conflicting decisions and total chaos .
    Just look at the Case of Joseph Jordan against the Sunset Crest development. It is clear that Mr. Jordan has full and clear legal title to the properties and all egress, yet you have a judge stalling and abusing the courts to deny Mr. Jordan his rights.
    When speaks out and is tired of the dirty underhand dealings by this legal system, he is ordered to pay or go to jail for his rights.
    So it is finally welcoming to see a member of the legal profession, speaking out at last.

  14. DE January 3, 2018 at 9:59 am

    This is the problem we have I Barbados. When a person do the job that they are being paid to do without leaning on the political side, that person is taken to task buy political junkies. That is why the country is the state that it is now.

  15. Lilian Lloyd
    Lilian Lloyd January 3, 2018 at 11:33 am


  16. vernie January 3, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    “senior practitioner”?

    more like “senile practitioner”!

    …who doesn’t have a valid license to practise


  17. Donild Trimp January 3, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    “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?”

    Come on now Mr.Smith, stop twisting things around. There is no flaw at all in the ruling by the learned Judge.

    Even a non-practitioner can understand the following, it is beyond reason that a person of your intellect cannot.

    “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.”

    Mr.Smith, the operative phase in the above is — “Agard could refile the case, omitting the multiple flaws in the process.”

    Let me explain it to you Mr.Smith.
    1: There is a cause of action against the correct parties.
    2: When you identify the correct person, persons or organization who should be sued, you can refile your statement of claim.
    3: When you refile, make sure you use the correct claim form.

    I really believe you have a gripe against the learned Judge. There is no other explanation for the nonsense you are coming forward with.

    Please pay your Bar Association fees and stop the foolishness.

    • David Brathwaite January 3, 2018 at 3:20 pm

      Well Said!

  18. petra January 3, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    Hope he paid his bar fees. Maria you got money to waste?

    Donate some to charity then

  19. milli watt January 3, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    de CJ do what to Smitty………lololol neva a dull day in dis place.

  20. Haskell Murray January 3, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    Vernon Smith the Chief Justice was correct , this is the problem with the professional class in Barbados they don’t pay their taxes but yet complain about the government not paying its bills, now you tell me how you expect to practice law and your fees to the Bar Association have not been paid. At last somebody enforce the rules.I say to you pay your fees every year on time and drop the law suit against the Chief Justice because you can’t win.

  21. Tony Waterman January 6, 2018 at 5:19 am

    This article does not say where Mr. Smith made his Remarks, i hope that he was NOT in the Judge’s Court at that time, otherwise he should be languishing at Dodds for Contempt of Court, that Huy Smith seems to think that QC makes him Jesus, he needs blocking at the Knees and being brought back down to Earth.

    Perhaps i should stop paying my House taxes and claim that the Government has no Legal right to charge me House tax.except that i dont have QC after mt Name.
    mine would say JA.

    • vernie January 9, 2018 at 6:58 am

      hmmmm. not the only thing he should be in Dodds for…


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