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The Bar to boycott the ceremonial opening of the Supreme Court

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Posted: Friday, January 10, 2020. 5:48 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Bar Association of Belize says via press release that it will not participate in Monday’s ceremonial opening of the Supreme Court, in which it typically plays a role.

The Association usually has one of three speaking slots in the formal ceremony in the Chief Justice’s courtroom, after the Chief Justice himself and before the Attorney General (A.G.).

A.G. Michael Peyrefitte says his office has been informed.

The Association has a case before the courts concerning the denial of current President and Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl-Lynn Vidal a seat reserved for the Bar on the Judicial and Legal Services Commission. The A.G. stuck to his guns concerning not commenting about the specifics of the case.

And so, though he personally disagrees with the decision not to be present, the A.G. said it is their right not to attend and give up their right to be heard. (He clarified that he is not now and has never been a member of the Association; the mandatory membership was removed by Act of Parliament.)

“The Bar is a private Bar; they can choose to attend or not attend if they want…it’s their right to make that challenge, and it’s their right as well to not attend if they don’t want to attend; the claim will be heard and the court will decide whether or not they are correct,” he said.

It is a concern, the A.G. said, that there is a widening rift between the Bar and the Bench, and he is prepared to play any role offered to bring them together – though, he warned, not at the cost of any extension of the Chief Justice’s contract, which expires imminently on his reaching the age of retirement of 65 in March. That is strictly a matter for the Commission.

 

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