ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Senator Joanne Massiah and Ambassador Sir Keithlyn Smith are of the view that Continuing Legal Education (CLE) should be made mandatory in the region to ensure attorneys are abreast with legal developments.
The two officials expressed the opinion at Thursday night’s panel discussion on whether Antigua & Barbuda should adopt the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the final court of appeal to replace the British Privy Council.
While she did not express a position on the substantive discussion, Massiah said, “Continuing Legal Education should be made mandatory to ensure legal practitioners in the region avail themselves to new developments in the region and ultimately it would enhance the quality of legal practitioners we have in the region.”
Massiah, an attorney, said she has no objection to attorneys choosing to specialise in a particular area throughout their career.
However, she noted that professionals would serve the region better if they garner experience and knowledge in as many areas as possible.
“There is no mandatory continuing legal education as there is in certain jurisdictions. For example, in the United States, in order to maintain your licences to practice law, you must complete a certain amount of hours annually of continuing legal education,” she said.
Sir Keithlyn, who is former general secretary of Antigua & Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU), has lost many ABWU cases in local courts, but had them overturned by the Privy Council.
He said the policy should be adopted before signing onto the CCJ so people are satisfied that the judges have had adequate exposure to a range of diverse issues that could arise in the appellate court.
Meantime, Attorney General Justin Simon, QC said he hopes members of the legal fraternity “would take their discipline seriously enough to ensure that they seek CLE; specialise in particular legal areas to garner the necessary expertise and thirdly, that they become actively involved in the Bar Association in respect of not only education but also in respect of the members of the public.”
He said the government of Antigua & Barbuda has gone as far as promising that monies would be paid from Consolidated Funds to the Bar Association to assist in continuing education among members of the bar as well as education of the public.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)