It used to be that select lawyers would be invited to apply for ‘silk’

Dear Editor,

It seems as if the tradition of the noble profession is being “watered down”.

I read in the newspapers in Guyana that the Supreme Court has advertised for suitable candidates to apply to become Senior Counsel  and over in St. Vincent and the Grenadines the press reported that lawyers were opposing the EC$10,000 fee requested to apply for “silk”.

As I know it, the practice was that lawyers have to be invited to apply for silk and not every “Tom, Dick and Harry” can apply to become member of the inner bar. It seems as if this tradition of the noble profession has changed so much so that some appointments are made not because of the performance and for appropriate deportment, and decorum but because of political connections.

The newspapers reported that the last set of Senior Counsel appointments was in 1996 and six persons were elevated and from that number it seems as if two were political appointees.

I hope that those responsible for the selection will note the comments made by Teni Housty, former president of the Guyana Bar Association. As I write I recall the comments made by former President, Bharrat Jagdeo, that he (Jagdeo) would ensure that Nigel Hughes is not elevated to Senior Counsel. That statement  of course sent the message that the President of Guyana had/has an input in selecting senior counsel.

I cannot understand why the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) is

demanding an application fee as much as EC$10,000 – EC$6,000 to be paid at the time of the application and the balance when appointed.  The ECSC retains the title of Queen’s Counsel. Over in Belize, like Guyana, members of the inner bar are known as Senior Counsel (SC), but in that Central American country, there are dozens of Senior Counsel — more than any other member state of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and some of them were political appointees and a few were not worthy of “silk”

Even in England there was dissatisfaction and the appointments of Queen’s Counsel were suspended in 2003 for certain reform measures to be put in place. A nine-member panel was appointed comprising retired judges, senior lawyers as well as non- lawyers.

The newspaper advertisement in Guyana stated that applications should be sent to the Office of the Chancellor, but no mention was made as to the method and the names of the persons who are tasked with the selection.

 Yours faithfully,

Oscar Ramjeet

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