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Jun 23, 2022

Former Prime Minister Dean Barrow Weighs in on New C.J. Appointment

Former Prime Minister Dean Barrow whose administration appointed Michelle Arana as Acting Chief Justice, following the retirement of Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin in March 2020, has weighed in on the debate. Barrow, who uses the public service system as somewhat of an equivalent, puts forward that after two years in that capacity Acting Chief Justice Michelle Arana should have held the substantive post.  Notwithstanding the configuration of the judiciary under the Senior Courts Bill, Barrow says that the Acting Chief Justice, as well as the Acting President of the Court of Appeal should have been confirmed.


Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow, Former Prime Minister

“There was a rule always, in the public service, not the judicial and legal services, the regular public service, that if you acted in a position for over a year you had to be confirmed.  Reasoning by analogy, that would certainly seem to suggest that Acting Chief Justice Arana ought to be confirmed.  I don’t know anything about the lady who is now being proposed to become Chief Justice, I will say nothing with respect to her.  But I do think that the government of the day owes, first of all, Acting CJ Arana and secondly, the entire public some explanation as to why after acting for two years, she is not being confirmed. Another point of course is that the person who is coming in as Acting Chief Justice will, after the Senior Courts Bill, goes through becomes the head of the entire judiciary, including the Court of Appeal.  Currently there is a President of the Court of Appeal or there is a position for President of the Court of Appeal.  After that bill is passed, whoever is Chief Justice is in effect also the President of the Court of Appeal.  Well, we have Justice of Appeal Minnet Hafiz-Bertram who has been acting as President of the Court of Appeal, I believe, for certainly over a year.  The question also arises, if you have regard to that rule in the public service, how is it to be explained to her that after acting for this period of time, she does not become, in effect, President of the Court of Appeal.  Now again, that’s for the government to explain to the persons concerned and to the public exactly what they are doing and how this change in terms of the structure of the judiciary and the hierarchy, why that is to the benefit of the legal profession and to the country and whether, in this process, people such as Justice Arana and Justice Minnet Hafiz-Bertram are nothing more than collateral damage.”


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