BAR ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT Leslie Haynes, QC, says any attempt by Government to amend the law to facilitate the appointment of any individual is wrong and an erosion of the rule of law.
“It’s a curious situation where we are amending a bill to fit the man, rather than have the man to fit the bill,” Haynes told the DAILY NATION yesterday, referring to a SUNDAY SUN newspaper report that Government was heading to Parliament to safeguard the appointment of Marston Gibson as the next Chief Justice of Barbados by the end of next month.
“Once we start amending qualifications to appoint a person, any person to any position, we start on a slippery slope, because then at the end of the day qualifications are unimportant,” Haynes added.
Gibson, who was to take up the top judicial post at the beginning of January ran into a legal snag after it was discovered he did not meet all of the legal criteria to qualify.
Under Section 7 of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, anyone who wants to become Chief Justice or a Court of Appeal judge in Barbados must have been practising for no fewer than 15 years in a Commonwealth jurisdiction, or serving during the prescribed period as a parliamentary counsel or as a professor or teacher of law at the University of the West Indies, or at a school for legal education approved by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission.
“The rule of law should be respected, and in amending the act to fit the man we are eroding, however slowly, or however small or however minute, we are eroding the principles of the rule of law.
“Once that is gone, anarchy will take over,” Haynes said.
In Sunday’s report, a senior Government official is quoted as saying that the Freundel Stuart Government believed Gibson was the best man for the job.
The Opposition Barbados Labour Party says it will not support any ammendment to the law to facilitate Gibson’s appointment.