A new Legal Professions Bill is now before Cabinet for consideration, and could be completed as early as next year.

Attorney General, Adriel Brathwaite, made this disclosure today during the opening ceremony of the Caribbean Association of Judicial Officers conference at the Accra Beach Resort and Spa.

Under the theme: Equality, Justice and Caribbean Realities ??? The Way Forward, the conference has attracted judicial officers from all of the CARICOM States, including Chief Justices, Judges, Magistrates, Masters, Registrars and other judicial personnel.

Mr. Brathwaite, also Minister of Home Affairs, explained that one of the areas the new Bill addressed was continued legal education for attorneys. However, he noted that he was giving thought to extending such continued legal education for Magistrates and Judges, and training for potential Magistrates and Judges before their selection to the bench.

???There is a role for continuing education. I believe it is something that we should address regionally because you have to do it from the context of the independence of the judiciary,??? he said.

Mr. Brathwaite added that given scarce resources it made no sense for Barbados to decide that it would set-up a judicial training institute, and Trinidad and St. Lucia doing the same thing. ???I want to signal that I will speak to my colleagues politically and see whether or not we shouldn???t, as a region, address the issue of continuing legal education,??? he indicated.

Noting that the bill was being designed to modernise the existing act and address areas of weakness, the Attorney General pointed out that it was also expected to address issues of having attorneys produce property financial statements for client accounts, and declaring whether or not they [the attorneys] had indemnity insurance.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice of Barbados, Sir Marston Gibson, encouraged those present to not only study the law, but also ???learn how to make the law and its administration more efficient???.

???The fact is that particularly with the development of new technologies, the judiciary has to get with the programme,??? he said. He added that the presence of the judicial officers at the conference was ???testimony to the fact that we believe that gone are the days when you put on your judicial robes and all of the knowledge of the law descended on your head like manna from heaven???.

Sir Marston added that the programme over the next two days ran the gamut of the issues the judiciary should consider. These, he pointed out, included not just matters related to the jury and information technology, but also corruption and the need for established procedures.


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