21st March 2023

The Bar Association of Guyana notes with significant concern the recent disparagement of a member of the Inner Bar (Senior Counsel) by a sitting judicial officer in a written decision.

As a matter of principle, the Bar Association reminds all of society that the disparagement of Counsel by the public, fellow Counsel and the Judiciary has been known to:

(i)                 have a debilitating effect on the rule of law;

(ii)                diminish public confidence in the administration of justice,

(iii)               be perceived as judicial interference;

(iv)               impede on the right to secure protection of the law; and

(v)                prejudices the right to a fair trial from an independent and impartial tribunal.

The legal profession and by extension the administration of justice is guided by and rests on the adherence to a number of written and unwritten rules, norms and courtesies. The mutual respect passing between Bench and Bar is one such pillar on which the administration of justice rests, for it engenders public confidence in the system. Such confidence is undeniably imperative for the system to be effective.

It is for this reason that statements by the Bench impugning the character of Counsel without due process must not be allowed to go unnoticed. We are further reminded that judicial restraint is always a prudent course of conduct.

We take the statements of the sitting judicial officer as an attack not only on Senior Counsel whose repute is known to be beyond reproach, but on the entire Bar, for it shakes the very foundation on which our profession rests. The character of Counsel is his/her most precious asset to himself, the profession and administration of justice. Any attack thereon causes immeasurable damage thereto.

We are reminded that Judges are elevated from the Bar. Disparagement at all levels must therefore not be permitted to go unaddressed and will not be countenanced by the Bar.