The Caribbean has lost another legal legend. Dr Joseph S Archibald, QC died suddenly last Friday at his home at Road Town Tortola. He was 80. He followed his colleague and friend Karl Hudson Phillips who passed away a few months ago also at the age of 80.
Archibald served in all the important capacities in the legal world – as Registrar, Director of Public Prosecution, Attorney General, High Court Judge and Appellate Court Judge. He was also a member of the Regional Judicial Service Commission which appoints judges of the Caribbean Court of Justice – the highest court of the land. He was a brilliant attorney and appeared before the Privy Council on more than three dozen occasions.
He delivered an invited address entitled ‘The Changing Role of the Judge in the Modern Society’ to all the assembled judges of the Court of Appeal and the High Court of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and also the Chancellor of the Supreme Court of Guyana on the occasion of the orientation programme for seven new judges in St Lucia. He was appointed by the Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean to be Chairman of the Civil Justice Task Force relating to the working and implementation of the new Civil Procedure Rules 2000 of the Supreme Court.
The distinguished jurist was appointed by the Heads of Governments of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States as Chairman of a new Committee of Attorneys General of the OECS for the creation of a single judicial and legal service from 1988-96. Also, he was a member of a three man panel of international lawyers appointed to evaluate the justice system in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and Barbados under the USAID/UWI Justice Improvement Project 1988. He visited St Vincent and the Grenadines and had meetings with legal officials in that country.
He delivered the inaugural Sir Archibald Nedd Memorial Lecture in Grenada on ‘Essentials for a West Indies Supreme Court to replace the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as the Final Appellate Court for the Commonwealth Caribbean States and Territories in July 1996.’ This lecture was published verbatim as feature article pages 4 and 5 of the November/December 1996 issue of the World Jurist.
Dr Archibald’s name was inscribed on the Rules of Law Monument among 18 names of outstanding members of the World Jurist Association and donors of the monument which stands in Margarethen, Australia. He was a patron member of the World Jurist Association in December 2003.
He was born in St Kitts, but lived most of his adult life in the British Virgin Islands. He founded the firm of J S Archibald & Co several decades ago. Acting Premier of the BVI, Dr Kedrick Pickering in a statement said that “he was highly intelligent, he had a brilliant mind and was one of the best conversationalists I have ever known. He was a legend of his era, and one of the most renowned legal minds in the Caribbean.”
I worked with him for a number of years and was his colleague and friend up to the time of his death. May his soul rest in peace.