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Lawyers are failing the system

The Supreme Court Registry – is now a major collector of revenue for government

One of the island’s most senior and respected Court Bailiffs has accused lawyers in Grenada of failing in their duties to ensure that the Supreme Court Registry provides a good and adequate service and gives the public value for their money.

The Bailiff who spoke to THE NEW TODAY in confidence branded the current Grenada Bar Association (GBA) as “a complete waste of time”.

He said that there are many pertinent issues that lawyers need to raise due to the lack of proper service provided by the Registry but the lawyers are totally silent.

He said the only time that the lawyers stood up in recent years is when they protested the move made back then by a former Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) between 2003 and 2008 to appoint controversial Jamaican attorney-at-law Hugh Wildman to the post of Attorney-General.

The lawyers took to the streets in a show of force as many judges had to adjourn matters in the absence of counsel.

The Wildman appointment was eventually rejected by members of the Judicial and Legal Services of the OECS Court at a meeting in St. George.

THE NEW TODAY understands that government used a retired high court judge to ask the JDCL to review its decision on the Wildman issue but it was turned down.

According to the Bailiff, the current crop of lawyers are not engaged in lobbying as those in the past like late QC, Derek Knight and Ashley Bernardine who used to speak out on issues to ensure that there was much better and improved services in the legal profession to the public from the Supreme Court Registry.

He recalled the many battles waged by Knight to ensure that proper procedures were always followed in the legal profession.

“There isn’t a lawyer right now who you can say is a lawyer advocate. They all seem to be playing games with the government. It’s just like everybody in the pocket of the government,” he said.

The Bailiff pointed to the recent price increases in service fees for using the Registry and the apparent lack of preparation for staffers to handle the situation.

He said that there was nothing but chaos at the Registry as the Clerks seemed not to be fully briefed and prepared by their superiors to implement the new fees.

He said he formed the impression on the day that the increases took effect that there was no meeting with those in charge of the Registry and staffers on how to implement the new prices.

He said the staffers did not seemingly get a briefing on “any interpretation so when people come to do simple things like affidavit, say like somebody recording a Deed and a Witness affidavit – all affidavits used to be $1.50 across the board except the Process Servicing ones where you put $1.00 and the Magistrate’s Court is free – they are telling people $20. 00 and this should not be.”

The Bailiff told THE NEW TODAY that it is now costing $5.00 just to get a simple file in the Supreme Court Registry and branded this as “not fair”.

He said the list given for price increases is for high court matters and non-contentious matters like probates.

However, he noted that to register a statutory declaration which is not a contentious issue the price rose sharply to $20. 00 and should never be.

“People aren’t supposed to be doing those kinds of a thing. This doesn’t have anything to do with high court,” he remarked.

“They didn’t have any staff meetings so the staff is not aware of what the interpretation should be. It (the Registry) is a place in chaos,” he said.

In addition, the Bailiff charged that some staffers at the Supreme Court Registry are bluntly refusing to do certain things for persons like himself and others who conduct searches of the Court Records but will then turn around and do the same thing for certain lawyers.

“It’s like everybody is in somebody’s pocket,” he said.

The Bailiff also made mention of the deplorable conditions under which persons who use the old Registry building are forced to work.

He said that the staff were transferred to the nearby Modern Photo Studio building on Church Street to work due to health concerns but some of them are forced to go back there on a daily basis to do a full 8-hour daily shift as the documents to carry out search are still lodged in the vault there.

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