The Grenada Bar Association (GBA) is putting systems in place to host the 2015 Law Conference which involves Lawyers throughout the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECES) from September 11 -13.
In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY Newspaper, newly re-elected GBA President Ruggles Ferguson said the 12th Annual Law Conference of the OECS Bar will be a weekend of continued legal education.
The first day of the conference focuses on the latest developments in the law in areas such as company law, family law, civil law, and criminal law.
The OECS Bar in conjunction with the Judicial Education Institute of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court has set aside Saturday, September 12, as the day to host a session with the Judges to look at Succession Law.
The final day of the conference is dedicated to social activities.
During the conference, Lawyers will be exposed to suppliers of legal materials who will have the latest materials on hand.
Ferguson said it is hoped that the annual conference will see the largest gathering of OECS Lawyers participating in the three-day event as their colleagues outside of the sub-region are being invited to attend the event.
According to the GBA President, the local Bar intends to focus heavily on continued legal education by hosting a session on a quarterly basis for its members.
He said these sessions which expose Lawyers to the latest development within the law will serve to get them to provide quality service to their clients.
This is Ferguson’s second two-year in his second stint as President, and he indicated that the work of the Bar calls for commitment with the need to organise and pursue programmes that would attract the participation of members.
He spoke of GBA having a very strong programme of continued legal education, and pubic legal education, and that it has a good image from among the Bar Associations in the region.
The local GBA boss stressed that his organisation has led the way in several programmes including Law Week which started in 2001 and which other Bars in OECS member states are now implementing.
Ferguson also addressed the concerns from the General Public that some local Lawyers are not ethical in the profession.
He said this concern is not unique to Grenada, as Lawyers are seen to just make money and to enrich themselves.
“That is the image the public has of Lawyers, and really Lawyers do not do much to correct that image themselves. That is why public legal education is so important because people need to understand the system and how the system operates,” he said.
In recent months in Grenada, two female lawyers were forced to appear as defendants before high court judges on allegations of misuse of client funds.
In the case of one of the lawyers, a judge ruled that a panel from the profession should be established under the supervision of the Supreme Court Registry to determine whether she should be sanctioned or struck off the list for the misappropriation of over $300,000.00 belonging to a client.
Ferguson said one of the complaints coming from the general public is the delay in having their cases dealt with in the courts on a timely manner.
He identified several issues which could contribute to the delay in the hearing of cases such as the lack of resources in the legal system.
The GBA President referred to the backlog of several cases in the system over the years dating back as far as 2006.
He said Lawyers have been struggling to get trial dates, and when a client cannot get an immediate date and the matter is just sitting there in the system, the Lawyer often gets the blame.
Ferguson said it is important that Lawyers communicate with their clients about the problems they face so that they can have a better understanding of the challenges within the system.
The GBA President applauded the Judicial Reform system -an Institutional Strengthening (JURIS) Project which is intended to reduce the backlog of cases in the system.
The JURIS Project addresses matters in the system that were ready for trial up to December 2013.
One hundred and seventy-five matters were identified as being ready for trial with the hope of having them disposed of by November 30.
According to Ferguson, all of the 175 matters will first go to mandatory meditation.
He said the JURIS Project also addresses the issue of electronic filing as every case results in the generation of pages of paper.
“Electronic filing is one of the areas of focus of this project,” he quipped.
Ferguson said the Bar is fully on board with the JURIS Project and is working along with all the stakeholders to make sure it happens.
GRENADA BAR ASSOCIATION The Grenada Bar Association at its Annual General Meeting on Tuesday June 9th 2015 elected a new executive.
About three weeks ago, Ferguson survived a challenge to his leadership of GBA following a challenge from former Attorney-General, Jimmy Bristol.
The two had tied in earlier voting and a second round of balloting had to take place and was eventually won comfortable by the incumbent who is a leading figure in Ciboney Chamberd.
The new Vice President is Alban John, Partner at the Law Office of Alban M. John while Kim George, Principal at Kim George & Associates, is the new Treasurer.
The new Secretary is Thandiwe Lyle, Associate at the Law Office of Alban M. John. With the floor members electd being Sabina Gibbs, Associate at Ciboney Chambers, Kindra B. Maturine-Stewart, Partner at the firm Nigel D. Stewart & Associates, Linda Dolland, Senior Associate at the firm Seon & Associates and Cathisha Williams, Associate at the firm Derick F. Sylvester and Associates.
The new executive has committed “to enhancing public legal education while further developing the system of continuing legal education for attorneys and increasing its engagement with the Government of Grenada in legislative reform”.