Barbados’ fifth Chief Justice since Independence, Patterson Cheltenham, was officially sworn in by Governor General Dame Sandra Mason at Government House, this morning.
And, come Monday, he is expected to meet with members of the judiciary and share his 90-day plan for the island’s judicial system and garner their feedback.
He made these comments soon after taking the Oath of Office before Dame Sandra; Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Dale Marshall; his family; including his brother and former President of the Senate, Sir Richard Cheltenham; and friends.
“I am very humble, and very proud at the same time. Mission critical for me is to speak to my judges as early as Monday morning and lay out the plans, and hear from them…. There are serious issues that we will be discussing,” he stated.
The new Chief Justice noted that he already had a “clearly articulated 90-day plan” but stated that it would be discussed with judges first to ensure that it was in sync with what presently exists.
“I have never been to the building other than as a lawyer. I am now going in as the Chief Justice. Those are two completely different roles, and I am assuming nothing. There will be things I will find once I arrive there. I have to listen…and then I have to ensure that the plans I have go in sync with what I find,” he explained, noting that he had a “good reception” from those he met so far.
Meanwhile, the Attorney General noted that Mr. Cheltenham’s elevation to the office of Chief Justice created history, as it was the first time an individual practising law at the private Bar had ascended to such a position.
“That brings with it a dynamic of a perspective where an individual has been on the other side of the fence and understands, having lived and worked in it, the challenges of a system where justice is not delivered with dispatch. So, I think we are going to benefit from a unique opportunity and experience of a Chief Justice who has been in the hustling for all these years,” he said.
Former President of the Senate, Sir Richard, described today’s swearing in as a happy occasion that filled him with “pride and delight”.
“We wish him well. For the family abroad, I hope they will share in the occasion through photographs,” he said. The Chief Justice will officially assume his new role on November 1.