As the countdown to the November 15 to 17 Jamaican Bar Association's conference at the Hilton Rose Hall Hotel, The Gleaner asked the Jamaican Bar Association's (JBA) president Ian Wilkinson to reflect on the 40th anniversary and his hopes for the conference.
Wilkinson noted that the JBA has come of age on its 40th anniversary, having been established on January 16, 1973. He noted that the Bar, through its 15 presidents (commencing with Douglas Judah of blessed memory) and various councils, has had many noteworthy accomplishments in contributing to Jamaica's development, particularly to the legal profession, including the following:
(a) contributing to upholding the Constitution by supporting, or participating in, various court cases;
(b) assisting with human rights cases;
(c) providing legal aid to citizens;
(d) honouring outstanding members of the legal profession in various ways, customarily at its annual banquet;
(e) advocating for improvements in the justice system, including agitating for - (i) the DPP's charging protocol; (ii) the DPP's disclosure protocol; and (iii) the judicial code of conduct;
(f) providing benefit to members;
(g) producing a world-class publication - the JAMBAR JOURNAL;
(h) hosting seminars for the benefit of members, judges, and the public;
(i) upholding the dignity of the legal profession.
Of the upcoming conference, Wilkinson noted that the Bar will continue the great tradition set in staging world-class seminars. "This event is particularly impressive having regard to the distinguished participants, including former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson and Sir Dennis Byron, president of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)," he said.
Wilkinson noted that the topics are engaging, fascinating and befitting to commemorate the 40th anniversary and are quite timely having regard to the prevailing issues and the global landscape.
They include 'Judicial Ethics: Strengthening regional institutions,' and the raging debate about the CCJ being Jamaica's final court of appeal. He pointed to the added interest that has been provided by the recent CCJ decision in the Shanique Myrie case.
Ethics regarding dispute resolution is also germane as the concept of alternatives to resolving problems is gaining ground as a crucial tool in settling disputes, reducing the backlog of cases in the courts and strengthening the scope of restorative justice.
"In recent times, the Bar's seminars have been massive successes with hundreds of lawyers registering, and I expect this event to exceed expectations on this special 40th anniversary," the president said. "By way of encouraging members to get registered as quickly as possible," he added.
Legal luminaries will also be able to take advantage of the following:
(a) a great opportunity to relax and enjoy camaraderie with fellow attorneys-at-law;
(b) a splendid occasion to obtain excellent erudition and intellectual nourishment; and
(c) the chance to get credits for Continuing Legal Professional Development.
"The Bar is in its healthiest state ever and no doubt will continue to grow from strength to strength in the next 40 years and beyond," he said.