A weekly digest of legal news under the following headings:-
Before the Courts
Developments in the profession
Law and Society
Beyond our shores
THE COURT OF APPEAL yesterday sent a strong signal to the legal fraternity by disbarring Therold O’Neal Fields and making him repay more than half-a-million dollars to an elderly client.
Meanwhile, the Barbados Bar Association hailed the disbarment.
Justice has finally arrived for four persons who had to wait 26 years for their case to be completed in the Supreme Court. The long delay has been described by some lawyers as “scandalous” as they argued that no one should have to wait for more than a quarter of a century to get a decision in a case.
Before the courts
Senior lawyer Vernon Smith, QC risks being excluded from Leroy Parris’ legal team, which is challenging the rights of a High Court judge to freeze $4.5 million in assets belonging to the former CLICO boss. The latest development in the CLICO saga follows last Tuesday’s hearing before Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson who declared that neither Smith nor Hal Gollop, QC, could represent their client in the chamber hearing since the two senior lawyers had not paid their membership fees to the Barbados Bar Association.
In the Cayman Islands, a Bulgarian visitor was charged with attempted theft from ATM machines through the use of a card skimming device. In Summary Court, Crown counsel told the Magistrate that the case against him was overwhelming as the equipment alleged to have been used was found on him.
The Jamaica Family Court held yesterday that the 16 year old boy accused of attempting to join Islamic terrorist group ISIS, was to remain in custody until Tuesday. The boy was detained after being deported from Suriname on suspicion that he wanted to join the terrorist group.
After today (Wednesday) persons found with two ounces or less of marijuana will no longer be subject to arrest or detention by the police. They will be issued instead with a ticket for $500 payable within a 30-day period at a revenue centre.Thus far UWI and Utech will be granted licences to grow marijuana for research purposes. Also, some persons who were convicted of having small amounts of the substance prior to October last year will not have those convictions reflected on their crimnal record. At the regional level, a commission is to be set up to assess marijuana use in the Caribbean.
PLANNING Minister Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie yesterday touted the Trademarks Bill as both armour for local businesses but also a development tool and a law that will ultimately see consumers reaping benefits. The Trademarks Bill went to Senate yesterday with those Opposition senators who spoke saying that they supported the document in principle but had reservations about some paragraphs.
In Jamaica, the Administrator General’s (Amendment) Act which was passed with two amendments in the Senate on Friday, will deal with, among other things, a spouse who will have access to the estate of a person who dies intestate. According to Justice Minister Mark Golding, a significant change in the law relates to the determination of cohabitation and who are to be recognised as spouses for the purposes of intestate succession.
Law and Society
The President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the Rt Hon.Sir Dennis Byron is hopeful that all member states of Caricom will give the CCJ a 10th anniversary gift of “full accession” to the Court. Sir Dennis made the statement at the anniversary celebrations of the Court at its headquarters in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago Thursday evening.
CARICOM and its treaty laws relating to economic integration are an untapped resource for civil society, including the regional business and banking sectors, Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) President Sir Dennis Byron, 71, said as the court marks its tenth anniversary.
The Montserrat government says it is seeking accession to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration grouping, Caribbean Community (Caricom). Montserrat is the only non-independent member of the grouping, but the founding member continues to retain full membership of Caricom and remains an up to date subscriber to all of the specialised agencies and the Caricom Secretariat.
President of the Jamaican Bar Association (JBA) Donovan Walker is urging the public not to be alarmed at the recent arrest of at least five attorneys on fraud charges, as the majority of members of the country’s legal profession practise at the highest standard.
The prime minister — who was a guest on a Dominican radio station — said to bar a Caricom resident from entering the country, who is not a security risk, would be in violation to that person’s right and the Caricom agreement. The treaty supports the free movement of people within the Caribbean Community.
Speaker of the Barbados House of Assembly Michael Carrington doesn’t see the need for holding a referendum to decide whether Barbados should become a republic.
The Barbados Fair Trading Commission (FTC) recently held its seventh annual two-day training workshop on competition law and policy. This year’s guest facilitator was Mariana Bruno, deputy director of the United States FTC’s Bureau of Competition.
The World Economic Forum released its Global Information Technology Report of 2015 ranking Jamaica in the bottom half of countries with effective parliaments. The Parliament has been criticised for being slow and in need of reforms to make it a modern law making institution.
Within CARICOM Barbados is ranked as the highest CARICOM country and Haiti ranked the lowest; while Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago were the other CARICOM countries that ranked higher than Jamaica.
The Youth and Culture Minister of Jamaica, Lisa Hanna believes it is time for a decision to be made to remove the State’s ‘veto’ power that interferes with women’s control over their bodies and currently make it unlawful for them to have an abortion. Currently the law makes abortion illegal, except in some cases of medical emergency. Hanna suggested the longer it takes to make abortion legal, more poor, unfortunate women and girls will suffer.
An international conference on reparations has ended here with a call for Caribbean governments to proceed urgently with the recommendation that the slave-owning and slave-trading European nations be invited to attend an inter-governmental reparatory justice summit in 2015. In addition, delegates also agreed to organise two global reparations summits, the first in 2016 to be held in the Caribbean and another in 2017 in Europe.
ON the heels of Jamaica Carnival an examination of the Noise Abatement Act is perhaps timely. Whether the Act as it currently exists speaks volumes, or it is just too soft to be heard, is the subject of this article. To be clear, annual events such as carnival and the like have their time and place, and therefore this article is instead focused on the incessant loud music emanating from parts known and unknown seemingly in perpetuity, and how the Act has been constructed to deal with that.
Query: When going abroad, is it safe to leave your firearm at a friend’s house who is also a licensed firearm holder? Also, what are the implications should someone break in and steal it? There is a popular misconception that a licensed firearm holder leaving Jamaica who does not desire to take his/her weapon/ammunition with them must leave same with the police. This is not accurate.
Beyond Our Shores
Refugees and human rights groups have publicly charged that World Bank money has been used to bankroll brutal evictions in Ethiopia. Citizens allege that they have been beaten and forced out of their homes as part of Ethiopia’s mass relocation campaign. The World Bank strongly disputes that its money has funded these evictions and remain confident that the money it sent was used for the purposes intended; that is for health and education purposes. However there is evidence gathered by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists which undermines the Bank’s assertions.
The Supreme Court of Canada in a majority decision held that the country’s mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes was unconstitutional, upholding a 2013 Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that the law was cruel and unusual.
Following a 5 year investigation into whether Google engaged in anti competitive and antitrust behavior, the European Union officially filed a complained against Google in this regard. The European Commission stated that its preliminary findings supported the claim that Google systematically gave prominence to its own advertisements, which amounted to an abuse of its dominant position in search. This sparks the start of a formal legal process that could ultimately lead to billions of euros in fines.