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Caribbean Court of Justice mourns founding members Michael de la Bastide and Desiree Bernard

Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2024. 2:04 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: At the end of March, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) lost two of its founding members, Justice Desiree Bernard on March 28 and President Michael de la Bastide on March 30.

According to a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) statement, Guyanese-born Justice Bernard was the first woman appointed to several significant roles in her country’s judiciary and that of the region, including Justice of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Guyana; Chief Justice of Guyana; the Chancellor of the Judiciary of Guyana; and Judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice.

CARICOM said, “The Community has lost a luminary, whose legacy represents exceptional contributions to the regional judiciary and commitment to gender equality.”

Trinidad’s de la Bastide was a Senator and president of the country’s legal association while in private practice before being appointed Chief Justice in 1995. He was elected the first President of the CCJ in 2004, months after being appointed to the Privy Council, and retired in 2011. In his memoir, he was quoted as saying: “Be intolerant. Be intolerant of incompetence, of inefficiency, and of inertia. Be as intolerant of these as you are or should be of injustice. If intolerance of this kind would spread, who knows what wonders we might perform.”

Current CCJ president Adrian Saunders is the last-standing member of the original panel of justices. He said, “It was an extraordinary honor and privilege to have worked alongside President de la Bastide. His razor-sharp mind, his prodigious knowledge of the law, and his tremendous experience exerted a profound influence on me. I express deepest condolences to his dear wife and family.”

The Court will open a condolence book for the former President at its Trinidad headquarters next Monday, April 8. The CCJ earlier lost Justice Jacob Wit at the start of 2024.

 

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