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As president and on behalf of the Barbados Bar Association, as the body charged by statute to uphold, defend and develop the standards of the legal profession, I was asked by a media house on October 31, 2017, to set out the law as it relates to the qualifications required for admission to practise law in Barbados.
They can be found in the provisions of the Legal Profession Act Cap 370A of the Laws of Barbados (LPA), particularly at Section 5, and the Second Schedule thereof, as well as The Council of Legal Education Act Cap 366A (CLE Act) and particularly Article 6 thereof.
By section 5 of the LPA:
(1) A person who after March 31, 1973, applies to the High Court to be admitted to practise law, and who satisfies the court that
(a) he is (i) a citizen of Barbados, or (ii) a citizen of a country specified in the First Schedule in which there is a law in force conferring the status of citizenship of that country, or (iii) regarded as belonging to a country specified in the First Schedule under any law in force in that country;
(b) he has attained the age of 21 years; (c) he has obtained the prescribed qualifications; and (d) is of good character, shall, upon compliance with the requirements of this act and, unless that person is exempt therefrom, on payment to the Registrar of the first registration fee for registration, be entitled to be admitted by order of the court to practise law.
The qualifications referred to at s. 5(1)(c) of the LPA are particularised in the Second Schedule to the act as follows:
A person is qualified for admission to practise law who has pursued the course of study and professional training in law provided by the Council of Legal Education established by the Caribbean Legal Education Agreement, and has obtained the certificate, diploma, licence or other status or form of recognition awarded by the Council of Legal Education.
1.Subject to paragraph 2, a person qualified for admission to practise law who is, in accordance with Section 2 of the Barristers Act, qualified to plead and practise the law as a barrister in Barbados by virtue of his having been called to the Bar in England and for the purpose of giving effect to this paragraph, notwithstanding the repeal of that act, Section 2 of that act, with such modifications, adaptations and qualifications as may be necessary to bring it into conformity with this act and these rules, is deemed to be in force as a part of this paragraph.
2. Notwithstanding paragraph 1, no person who has joined any of the Inns of Court of the United Kingdom after December 31, 1984, shall be deemed to be qualified, by virtue of his having been called to the Bar of England, to practise law.
Appendix 1 of the Second Schedule refers to the circumstances in which the LEC is a required qualification for admission to practise law in Barbados. Appendix 2 deals with circumstances in which an LEC is not a required qualification.
Article 6 of the CLE Act reiterates and confirms the qualification requirements for admission to practise law in Barbados as is set out in Appendix 2 of the Second Schedule to the LPA. Article 6 states:
1. The government of each of the participating territories agrees that the following persons shall be recognised as professionally qualified for admission to practise in its territory, namely
(a) . . . . . (b) Any national who, prior to January 1, 1985, had undergone or is undergoing or has been accepted for a course of legal training leading to a qualification such as is referred to in paragraph 2(b)(i) of article 4 of this agreement and obtains that qualification.
Article 4(2) (b) (i) refers to any person who “is the holder of a qualification which, had it been obtained prior to the 1st of October 1972, would have been recognised by all of the participating territories as a qualification to be admitted to practise as a barrister or solicitor in those territories”.
The foregoing statutory provisions are set out verbatim so as to lay bare the status of the law as it relates to the qualifications required to practise law in Barbados.
To paraphrase the legislation, in the ordinary case since the promulgation of the Legal Profession Act, a person qualifies for admission to practise law after having completed an undergraduate degree in law as well as a post-graduate course of study at a law school administered by the Council of Legal Education, which leads to the issue of a Legal Education Certificate (LEC).
The exception to the foregoing is the class of persons contemplated by Appendix 2 of the LPA and Article 6 of the CLE Act, that is, any person who joined the Inns of Court in the United Kingdom before December 31, 1984, or who, prior to January 1, 1985, had either been accepted to a course of legal training, was in the process of that training or had completed the same in England, and would have been treated as having been duly qualified to practise in these jurisdictions. A person to whom these provisions apply will not require an LEC to be admitted to practise law in Barbados and would be duly qualified therefor.
It must be noted that simply obtaining the prescribed qualifications does not render admission to practise automatic. An Application must be made to the Supreme Court which must be satisfied that all of the criteria for admission established by Section 5 of the LPA have been met before granting an order in favour of that applicant’s admission. The order of the court is subject to appeal and in the absence of such appeal, is final.
– LIESEL N. WEEKES, President, Barbados Bar Association