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Sep 26, 2014

Elrington Says Courtenay’s Comments Were Incomprehensible

Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington

On Wednesday, President of the Bar Association, Eamon Courtenay, excoriated Attorney General Wilfred Elrington and panned the government for introducing a bill that seeks to amend the existing composition of the General Legal Council.  That criticism was essentially supported by Senior Counsel Andrew Marshalleck who also believes that the proposed legislation is a step backward.  While Elrington was away at the United Nations General Assembly in New York at the time the comments were made, we got a response from him.  The objective, says the Attorney General, is to make the function of the General Legal Council more impartial.  This morning, in speaking with News Five, Elrington said that he is surprised that Courtenay would take such a position since there is no basis or truth in what is being said. 

 

Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington, Attorney General

“I heard a snippet of Mr. Courtenay’s comment yesterday just after I had arrived and I was amazed at what he was saying because there is no truth to it.  I find it just incomprehensible that the president of our bar could in fact make such a statement when there is absolutely no basis for it.  My only assumption is that he felt confident in doing that because he realized that maybe the media would not seek to get a copy of the bill and examine it for themselves.  The truth is, what the bill seeks to do is two things mainly.  One, to remove the attorney general, who is presently myself, from the position of chairman of the General Legal Council.  I don’t want to be chairman of the council.  I don’t want to stand in judgment of anybody really but certainly I don’t want to be in the position of chairman.  So the proposed bill or amendment to the bill will be making the Chief Justice the chairman and in the absence of the Chief Justice, a judge appointed by him.  Under the present situation the chairman of the council is myself and in my absence Eamon Courtenay would be the chairman, the present president of the bar.  I am removing that state of affairs, I am removing myself and I am removing him, as it were, from that position.  That is the purpose of the bill, to remove myself and the president from the position of chairman and to replace that with the Chief Justice or a judge of the Supreme Court.  I don’t think one can get more impartial or objective than that.  The effect of that is that it also conduces to the shortening of the process because under the present situation, after the council has made its determination it has to submit its decision to the Chief Justice who would, as it were, confirm it.  Now that won’t be necessary because the Chief Justice or a judge of the court would be part of the council that hears the matter and therefore the matter can be dealt with more expeditiously, disposed of more expeditiously.  So that to my mind it will make the process more impartial, more expeditious and what, the mischief that we were trying to get away from that with respect to that is twofold.  One, at the present time, we are fairly convinced that the General Legal Council was not being conducted in a partial, objective manner.  As a matter of fact, we had formed the view that really it was being used to persecute some counsels, some attorneys, you know, to take out personal vendetta against certain persons and professionals and we thought that that was an untenable state of affairs.”

 

The bill to amend the Legal Profession Act was tabled in the House of Representatives on September fifth.

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