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Sep 24, 2014

Bar Association President Says Amendments Are Scandalous…

Eamon Courtenay

Current Bar Association President Eamon Courtenay was far less subtle in his reference to the proposed amendments, in particular the change in composition of the General Legal Council. According to Courtenay, the bill for an amendment to the Legal Profession Act is scandalous and is obviously a backward step orchestrated by Attorney-General Wilfred Elrington.


Eamon Courtenay, President, Bar Association

“Speaking for myself, the amendment bill that is in the House that was tabled by the Government, is a scandalous piece of legislation. I think the people of Belize should ask themselves one question when they look at that bill. How has the public benefitted from these proposed amendments? There are two striking things in that piece of legislation. First of all, the amendment proposes to remove from the law the provision that allows the Chief Justice on the recommendation of the General Legal Counsel to discipline attorneys. I repeat, they have removed, they propose to remove from the law the power to discipline attorneys; first of all. Secondly, the bill proposes to change the composition of the General Legal Counsel and it seems to me that the Attorney General will now have himself, plus two additional attorneys chosen by him, plus he is going to appoint two persons on the recommendation of the Bar Association of Belize. Now I am aware, as a matter of fact, of other recommendations that have been made by other parties for appointment to other committees and commissions and this government has refused. There is nothing in the legislation that says that the Attorney General must accept the two nominees of the Bar Association. I can only assume that it is deliberate. It seems to me that once again we are going to have a General Legal Council designed, fabricated and manufactured in the image of the current Attorney General. It is regrettable, it is sad and I think it is a backward step when it comes to disciplining of attorneys in this country. I think the Attorney General and the Government of Belize ought to be ashamed of themselves for presenting such a piece of legislation to the country. I can only hope that good sense will prevail and someone in the government is going to—for the first time—read the recommendations, see how fatuous they are, withdraw them and engage in constructive consultation—not with the Bar Association alone, but the wider community. We need a General Legal Counsel that is not under the control of the Attorney General. We need a General Legal Counsel that is composed of members of the society, judges, retired judges, attorneys, a cross-section of people so that the many complaints can be dealt with fairly and expeditiously and not subject to the control and the whims and caprice of one man.”


We note that Attorney-General Elrington has a matter lodged against him before the General Legal Council. That Council has not previously been able to meet in regards to that complaint.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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