It has come to the attention of the Antigua and Barbuda Bar Council that certain comments were made by Sir Gerald Watt, Q.C. on Pointe FM radio station on Saturday the 25th day of August 2018, criticizing a decision by a High Court Judge to grant an injunction halting the construction of the international airport in Barbuda.
The Bar Council views the comments made by Sir Gerald Watt Q.C., especially where he used the adjective “madness” to describe the Judge’s decision, as unfortunate, troubling, and disavow such negative comments. Pursuant to paragraph 34 of Part A of the Code of Ethics (with which all Attorneys-atLaw are required to comply), it is the duty of every Attorney at Law “to maintain a respectful attitude towards the Court”, and to refrain from engaging “in undignified or discourteous conduct which is degrading to the Court”.
An attorney-at-law is also required to “encourage respect for the Courts and the Judges”, and “shall not support unjust criticisms of Judges and Magistrates”. Further, as an advocate, an Attorney-at-Law should endeavor never to assert his personal belief in his client’s innocence or in the justice of his client’s cause. These are long established ethical standards intended to protect and preserve the integrity of the Rule of Law and Administration of Justice. As Attorneys-at-Law we have obligations not only to our clients but also to the Courts and to our system of justice.
The role of Attorneys as “Officers of the Court” is
However, an Attorney-at-Law has a further duty to ensure that in challenging a Court’s judgment he/she does not also denigrate the Judge or the Court itself. It is therefore completely improper for any Attorney-at-Law to describe a Judge’s decision as “madness” and to generally denigrate the Courts or the justice system simply because the Attorney disagrees with a judgment. Actions such as these potentially threaten our entire system of justice. The courts are bulwarks of our Constitution and laws.
Separation of powers is not a threat to democracy; it is the essence of democracy. It is also important to note that there is nothing unusual or untoward per se about a judge deciding to impose an interim injunction. Interim injunctions are a
Indeed, by Sir Gerald’s own public statements it appears that an appeal has been made in the case to which he referred and that the court has agreed to hear that appeal as a matter of priority. Contrary to Sir Gerald’s characterization of “madness”, this all suggests that the system of justice is working procedurally as it should.
The Antigua and Barbuda Bar Council
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