Appointment of Barbadian Senior Counsel serves to enrich regional jurisprudence – AG Williams

DPI, Guyana, Monday, January 8, 2018

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senior Counsel (SC), Basil Williams, when questioned today about the rationale behind the inclusion of Barbadian Queen’s Counsel, Ralph A. Thorne and Hal Gallop to be part of the Government’s legal team in the challenge against President David Granger’s appointment of Justice James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), said this serves to enrich the jurisprudence in the region.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams SC.

“It is a healthy thing for us in CARICOM to be able to visit each other’s territory and share jurisprudential positions.”

Asked about the availability of these skills locally, the AG said the 23 years of opposition rule has “brutalised the legal system” in Guyana, pointing to the appointment of just a few Senior Counsel over 20 years ago.

The Attorney General said too that only a few lawyers were identified and funded by the then Government and given retainers, “The rest of the profession was left like that and a lot of people like me, who had been very successful in my law practice… they had to try and extract a living …it was a harsh time for us in Guyana.”

As a result, AG Williams noted that few attorneys were able to develop professionally.

According to the AG, Guyana is currently at a disadvantage with only 25 of the country’s law students being funded to study at the Hugh Wooding Law School, a decision taken by the previous administration. He questioned what happens in the interim.

The Minister pointed to what obtains in Jamaica and Trinidad, where some 200 law students are turned out annually. He said the attrition rates were high since other Caribbean territories would retain Guyanese lawyers.

Hence, Guyana now has to retain lawyers outside the borders. However, the AG maintains that this can only improve the legal system regionally.

Additionally, he noted that this is nothing new since, under the previous government, billions of dollars were spent to retain lawyers, for example for the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry.

AG Williams assured that by no stretch of the imagination will this Government have to invest such large sums to retain foreign lawyers.

 

By: Stacy Carmichael

 

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