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Mar 19, 2013

Bar Association strikes back at Attorney General

Eamon Courtenay

Attorney-General Wilfred Elrington is taking aim at the Bar Association and it is not the first time. This time though, he is using legislation that could result in a further splintering of the Bar.  Last week, through a letter from Solicitor-General Cheryl Krusen to the Chief Justice and the Bar Association, the AG made known his intention to push forward legislation to amend the Legal Profession Act. Currently, attorneys who practice in Belize must be part of the Bar Association, and the proposed amendment, among other things, would remove that compulsory membership. While various attorneys and the Attorney General have weighed in mightily, the Bar Association has stayed out of the fray pending a meeting of the membership. That meeting was held last night, and today for the first time since the announcement of the proposed amendment, President of the Bar Association Eamon Courtenay spoke to the media about the recommendations coming out of that meeting.

 

Eamon Courtenay, President, Bar Association

“First of all, the bar decided that we were going to reply to the draft proposals because we are very concerned by some of the provisions which we do not believe are in the interest of the country; in the interest of the profession. The Bar also agreed that we would seek a legal opinion on the question of whether or not it is unconstitutional to have compulsory membership of the Bar. I should tell you that since this matter has been raised, some of our members have done some research and have already found cases where this specific matter has come up and it has been found not to be unconstitutional. We have spoken to colleagues in the Caribbean who have indicated to us that there have been opinions written by very eminent attorneys who have said that it is not unconstitutional. And so we are going to seek that opinion to make it available to the government to see one way or the other whether in fact it is unconstitutional. Thirdly, the Bar decided that we are going to propose a committee, the formation of a committee that would include the members of the Bar, the government and the judiciary, to look at the legal profession act in its entirety rather than a piece-made approach as is being proposed by the government. We believe that a significant benefit can be had by looking at the legal profession act in its entirety rather than just these specific sections. And finally, the Bar was very disappointed in some of the things that have been said, some of the criticisms that had been levied at the Bar. We believe that the best way to the deal with this is to seek to engage the Attorney General, seek to engage the government on some of their concerns and to see if we can address them. So we are going to be asking the government to join us in a committee again with the judiciary—if the judiciary feels that it is appropriate for them to participate—to address some of the genuine issues that were raised in terms of future activities of the Association.”

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1 Response for “Bar Association strikes back at Attorney General”

  1. concern citz says:

    I do not believe in whole bar association. If they are so good and so meaningful why don’t they try help with crime and ban their lawyer from helping the high profile criminals that keep getting off because of our poor prosecution system. This might sound stupid but when you put up all these heavily train lawyer against a hight school graduate police prosecution what do you expect. they know this!! Mr Courtenay, Mr Barrow, Dickie they all do… but yet they choose to get them off. Maybe in law school they train them to give their soul to the devil .. Well in that case WE should not elect these lawyer to help run our beloved country..

    Suggestion: Maybe next time either party send (or sponsor like they call it) someone Law studies they sound make it mandatory for them to serve and help the police prosecute for a # of years.. OAS offers scholarship all the time and this is their requirement… this would help a lot Mr PM (udp or PUP). with this said BAN the Mandatory membership for the BAR ASSOCIATION hopefully we get some much need change!!!

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