President David Granger yesterday presented four long-serving legal practitioners with their instruments of commission, elevating them to Senior Counsel, a release from the Ministry of the Presidency said.
Kalam Azad Juman-Yassin, Fitz Le Roy Peters, Andrew Mark Fitzgerald Pollard and Josephine Whitehead were officially appointed at a ceremony held in the Baridi Benab at State House. The elevations were announced on December 30 last year.
The Head of State, in his remarks, said “I congratulate the attorneys-at-law who, today, have received instruments of commission appointing them as Senior Counsel – a status of pride and prestige within our legal profession and tradition. The title is: a national symbol, alongside other symbols – national honours and awards, anthem, coat of arms, flag and motto – that define our Guyanese identity; a professional symbol that distinguishes attorneys of erudition, experience, eminence and excellence; a social symbol representing the values of duty and integrity and the standards of social responsibility and respect for the law”.
Noting that the award of Senior Counsel recognises those whose service in the legal profession has shown these values and standards, the President said that the ceremony constitutes, as President of Guyana, an important personal obligation, the release said.
“I am a trustee of the traditions which sustain society. I am duty-bound to recognise those who have served with distinction. It is my obligation, not an option, to respect our national system of honours. Failure to confer these awards, whether the result of caprice or malice, would constitute a dereliction of duty and disdain for an honoured tradition…It can encourage juniors in the profession to strive for the highest standards. I shall, with regularity, respect, recognize and reward deserving attorneys and legal officers by conferring these honours. This is the custom of our people. This is the convention of good government. This is the culture of a good society,” the Head of State said.
In January 2017, after a 20-year hiatus, the President elevated nine persons to the status of Senior Counsel and has since pledged to ensure that these honours are conferred annually. Among those who were officially appointed then were the first three women to ever be elevated to that status: Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire, Justice Claudette Singh and Rosalie Robertson. Attorney General, Basil Williams, Neil Aubrey Boston, Charles Fung-A-Fat, Clifton Llewelyn John, Rafiq Khan and Vidyanand Persaud were the other legal practitioners to receive the honour.
According to his CV supplied by the Ministry of the Presidency, Juman-Yassin is a member of Gray’s Inn, London and was called to the English Bar in November, 1970 and to the Guyana Bar in January 1971. Since then he has been practising in Guyana in all Courts, both in the Civil and Criminal Divisions.
He was appointed a Magistrate in 1992 and later appointed Chief Magistrate from which post he resigned in 1997 and returned to private practice. He has appeared in the Caribbean Court of Justice, the Guyana Court of Appeal and Courts in Dominica and Trinidad & Tobago.
Whitehead, according to her CV, obtained her legal education at the University of Warwick, England and Lancaster Gate Law School, London. She has been an attorney in Guyana since 1979 and a Solicitor in England and Wales since 1983. From 1991 to date she has been a partner at the law firm Cameron and Shepherd. Among her key competencies are constitutional and administrative law, banking and finance, telecommunications, public utilities, commercial law and litigation.
Peters, according to his CV, gained his LL.B from the University of the West Indies in 1979 and his Legal Education Certificate in 1981. He served as State Counsel between 1981 – 1985, Senior Legal Adviser 1985 – 1986, Principal Legal Adviser 1986-1987 and Deputy Solicitor-General 1988 to 1998. While at the Attorney General’s Chambers his duties included advising government ministries and departments. He has been in private practice at McKay and Moore since 1998.
Pollard’s CV states that he obtained his LL.B at UWI, Cavehill and Legal Education Certificate from the Norman Manley Law School. He was admitted to practice in 1987 and has been employed with Hughes, Fields and Stoby. He has had significant legal undertakings in mergers and acquisitions and mining/oil and gas. In the latter category he lists work pertaining to ExxonMobil, Canacol Energy Limited, CGX Resources Inc, Pacific Rubiales Energy, Anadarko Petroleum and Tullow Oil Plc.