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Lawyers challenged to improve working relationship

- Justice Vicki Ann Ellis would like to see cordial sensibility built up among members of the BVI Bar Association
Lawyers practising before the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court have been challenged to develop a more cordial sensibility for each other. Photo: VINO/File
Lawyers practising in the Eastern Supreme Supreme Court leaving the special sitting for the opening of the Law Year 2015-16 at the High Court of the Virgin Islands on September 18, 2015. Photo: VINO
Lawyers practising in the Eastern Supreme Supreme Court leaving the special sitting for the opening of the Law Year 2015-16 at the High Court of the Virgin Islands on September 18, 2015. Photo: VINO
 Resident Judge, Her Ladyship The Honourable Madam Justice Vicki Ann Ellis said 'justice cannot be served where attorneys do not speak to each other, do not take each other’s phone calls, do not respond to correspondence in a civil manner or at all and it is in fact hampered when colleagues cannot rely on commitments made and when trust is breached'. Photo: VINO/File
Resident Judge, Her Ladyship The Honourable Madam Justice Vicki Ann Ellis said 'justice cannot be served where attorneys do not speak to each other, do not take each other’s phone calls, do not respond to correspondence in a civil manner or at all and it is in fact hampered when colleagues cannot rely on commitments made and when trust is breached'. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - “Justice cannot be served where attorneys do not speak to each other, do not take each other’s phone calls, do not respond to correspondence in a civil manner or at all and it is in fact hampered when colleagues cannot rely on commitments made and when trust is breached.”

This was stated by Justice Vicki Ann Ellis at this year’s official opening ceremony of the 2015-16 Law Year when several issues affecting the justice system were highlighted. Justice Ellis, like Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC), Her Ladyship Dame Janice M. Pereira DBE, had cause to be very straightforward with attorneys at law as it relates to a number of errant issues.

“Critical to the successes of the BVI is the strength of the BVI Bar and this bench is grateful for the cooperation the bar has extended to us. Whenever we have called upon you to assist the court, whether it is, to provide pro-bono service or legal aid service, you have…. Or to volunteer in any unsound ways you have always responded to the call,” Justice Ellis stated.

She noted, however, that she would like to see that cordial sensibility built up among the members of the bar. She noted that the legal profession generally operates like a fraternity. “I would urge you all to recall this and to take whatever small steps you can to strengthen the ties which exist purely because you all chose to practice law here.”

Justice Ellis continued that when the lack of civility and outright neglect is witnessed by clients and the public, the profession is demeaned and it brings the entire justice system into disrepute. “We trust that the new president [of the bar] and her executives will take the necessary steps to foster that sense of fraternity.”

The resident judge added that relationships with the police, probation services, prisons, social development departments, health services and the Family Support Network continues to be strengthened. “But we also acknowledge and appreciate the important role the media plays.”

She highlighted that with every passing year the demands on the court’s resources are becoming greater, something that is not singular to the Virgin Islands (British) and she strongly think it is timely that they strongly consider the future course.

According to Justice Ellis, over the last six years the commercial court has been one of the leading commercial courts in the world and to maintain and enhance its reputation and for it to be competitive there is a need for constant innovation and adaptation.

“Legal practitioners both here and elsewhere have felt the need to augment judicial capacity for at least a few years. In the 1st half of 2015, I am told, has been busier this year than ever in the commercial court.”

She said as a result the wait to obtain hearing dates of all lengths has become unacceptably long from a client service and a competitive perspective. “At the same time there has been an increase in urgent matters, matters that need to be heard and decided in a matter of days.”

She noted that the delay in obtaining hearing dates increases the pressures on the court, “not only to deal with urgent matters but to deal with matters that are not urgent but need to be heard sooner than the 4-6 months or more.”

Justice Ellis urged attorneys who have vested interests in the territory and the commercial court to bring forward their ideas to the court table.

“The contracting criminal bar is another critical problem which we continue to highlight here in the BVI….. This is a growing issue which must be addressed aggressively if we are to ensure that accused persons have timely and competent legal representation.”

She stated emphatically that “local law firms must begin to consider how this problem can best be addressed because I can tell you that the legal aid roster is simply not enough.”

6 Responses to “Lawyers challenged to improve working relationship”

  • Fools (21/09/2015, 09:07) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    more talk nothing will change
  • JACK BE STILL (21/09/2015, 09:36) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    these lawyers killing poor people with bills
  • Xxx (21/09/2015, 10:08) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    What do you know about trust? The devil in disguise. Ayo system full of wickedness and you full well know justice is not carried out.
  • $$$ (21/09/2015, 11:50) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    The LOVE of money is the ROOT of all evil. When dem come here you clearly heard this place got money, money, money...

    The justice system gone from bad to the worst ever...it skipped worse.
  • rat general (21/09/2015, 12:05) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Next!
  • Observer (21/09/2015, 12:18) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    something the people who continue to suffer under the legal system have been saying for years...look at the injustice they did not bob and letty and the others


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