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OECS Bar Association to Press for Passage of Legal Profession Act

President of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean (OECS) Bar Association, Ruggles Fergurson, has said that efforts will be made to have the Legal Profession Act implemented in jurisdictions such as Dominica.

The association met in Dominica at the Fort Young Hotel for its quarterly meeting on the weekend.

Fergurson told Dominica News Online that the non-implementation of the Act in jurisdictions such as Dominica is of concern to the association and the drive is to ensure that it is passed.

“We have a code of ethics for lawyers since the 1990’s … it’s persuasive and does not have the legal teeth yet … you need this Act to be passed in Parliament,” he said.

He agrees that “there are foot dragging” on the matter but said the “OECS Bar has made recommendations so that there will be accountability on the part of lawyers and also transparency.”

He noted that the bar association should not be blamed for the non-implementation of the act. “We are not to be blamed we don’t make laws, we can’t pass the Act …it’s for Parliament to so do,” he said.

Fergurson also said his association is working in tandem with senior lawyers to have “a mentoring programme” for young attorneys. “Law is dynamic, you learn every day and we advise young lawyers accordingly … we are also having continued legal education for lawyers with various topics from senior lawyers and judges and encourage lawyers to come out to be part of that and also do more networking across the region,” he said.

According to Fergurson, the meeting was of special significance since it was preparing a resolution which takes into account the terms and conditions under which members of the judiciary serves in the region.

“We are hoping to finalize a resolution to improve the terms and conditions of the judiciary. It’s all part of improving the justice system … it’s work in progress …  we know some of the problems and we know that no one particular solution will solve the problems,” he said.

He pointed out that long delays in the court system and delay in judgment are some concerns of the association. However he said that bars in the OECS are working hard to ensure this is improved. “The Civil Procedure Rule 2000 was introduced to ensure that the system is fixed and lessen the delays and the different registries are there to ensure that the delays are managed,” Fergurson stated.

The system, Fergurson said, needs to attract quality persons to the bench and the magistracy and the salaries must be right. “The perks must be right, security, better quality persons to be judges … the best of the best will improve the system. This will impact on the system in a like manner … it’s a chain reaction once the judiciary is respected then, people are happy. The Bar needs to also engage the public in a like manner so that people can know that all is working together,” he remarked.

The OECS Bar Association

The OECS Bar Association comprises the Caribbean islands within the regional geopolitical grouping of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.

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