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Moves afoot to amend the Possessory Title Act

Derick Sylvester – will step down as GBA President in a matter of weeks

Outgoing President of the Grenada Bar Association (GBA) Derick Sylvester said he expects some changes to be made to the controversial Possessory Title act based on some recommendations from his body.

Speaking to THE NEW TODAY over the weekend, Sylvester said that the local Bar has written to Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Senator Claudette Joseph on the need to strengthen the legislation and she has agreed to address it.

“A couple things we have asked her to do, she started doing,” he said.

According to Sylvester, the GBA is asking for an increase from 12 to 20 years, the timeframe in which an individual can file an application in court seeking to claim land under the Possessory Title act.

He said the law should be amended to place some more stringent measures for persons who intend to use the act to take possession of land.

“A man shouldn’t just come and swear two affidavits … and no background checks are done,” he added.

Sylvester noted that some persons will claim to be on a parcel of land for 12 years “and you know that is not the case” when it is known that the true owner is living overseas.

“We need to have more checks and balances,” he said.

The GBA President who is stepping down from office at the end of the month told THE NEW TODAY that AG Joseph is doing “a good job in so far” as amendments are being contemplated to the law and that the relationship between the bar and her have been a good one.

“That is what you want to see in a bar – that when you suggest something it is taken on board,” he said.

Sylvester also commented on calls made just over a week ago by long standing attorney-at-law Anselm Clouden for the law to be amended to provide for a high court trial involving a sitting judge without any Jury.

This is an issue, he said that he had discussed over the years with Clouden and is fully supportive of it.

“..I think that is something good” he remarked, adding that, “If the Magistrate could listen to the cases and determine two persons guilty without a jury (then) the High Court could do the same thing,” he remarked.

“So we can have a hybrid system (in which) an accused can say I don’t want to go before a Jury, let me have a judge alone hear my matter,” he said.

Like Clouden, Sylvester believes that a number of matters currently before the high court will finish faster and help to reduce the huge backlog of cases in the system.

“So give people the option,” he quipped.

According to Sylvester, GBA has already made that recommendation to AG Claudette Joseph and “as a matter of fact, I think she’s on board with it.”

However, he said this cannot be done right away because an amendment to the law takes time.

“She (AG Joseph) has to take her time – she has to get her Drafting Unit involved, look at the law thoroughly, ensure that they do not miss a particular section that has to be amended… those things are thorough exercises.

“When you have to do amendments you would have to do research, you will have to draft legislation and when you hear some lawyers talking that this can happen overnight, no.

“If you want to amend a law then you will have to look at whether you have to amend the Criminal Procedure Code, the Evidence Act, and the Jury’s act.

“It takes time and with law you don’t want to go and do something and somebody challenges it and says then the AG didn’t do what she was supposed to do because there are some lawyers who are just waiting to challenge.”

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