By Latoya Giles
After almost 18 years, the Supreme Court of Guyana has finally signaled its move to accept applications from lawyers who are desirous of being elevated to the position of “Senior Counsel.” The last set of Senior Counsel appointments was done in 1996.
Those appointed at that time were Justice Ian Chang, S.C, now the acting Chief Justice; Ralph Ramkarran S.C., former Speaker of the National Assembly; Charles Ramson, former Attorney General; Richard Fields, Moen McDoom, and Samuel Brotherson (deceased).
In an advertisement yesterday the Supreme Court stated that persons wishing to apply for the position should have at least 15 years of active practice at the bar.
Applicants must also have expert up to date legal knowledge with records of accurate and relevant applications of such knowledge.
It was noted further that applicants must have records of written and oral advocacy, along with a reputation for appropriate deportment, decorum and interpersonal relationships with professional colleagues befitting a member of the inner bar.
The prospective applicants must also have a reputation of honesty and integrity, particularly with respect to professional dealings with the court, clients and all other parties.
The applications must be supported by endorsements from at least two referees who are able to positively state that the applicant satisfactorily meets the required criteria.
Applications should be sent no later than May 30, 2014 in sealed envelopes addressed to the Office of the Chancellor, Court of Appeal, 60 High Street, Kingston, Georgetown. Attorneys-at-Law who previously made applications need not re-apply.
Former president of the Bar Association, Teni Housty, had suggested that politics should be removed from the appointments.
In the past, he said, many lawyers had called for the introduction of a more transparent process of appointments.
Housty had told Kaieteur News that the failure to appoint Senior Counsel can be seen as a disservice not only to the legal profession in Guyana, but also to the State and society as a whole.
In his explanation, he said that the failure operates at both philosophical and practical levels. From a philosophical standpoint, according to Housty, the non appointment of Senior Counsel comes at a point when most Guyanese are asking, “Where are the role models?”
The failure to appoint, he says, is yet another wasted opportunity to recognise role models not only in the profession but also in society as a whole.
The appointment of Senior Counsel is one chance for the State and the legal profession to act together in support of the administration of Justice in Guyana.
At a practical level, Housty said that the appointment should recognize those professional attributes which the practitioner has accomplished and the respect he/she gets from the public.
Housty stated that those factors would contribute to the strengthening of the administration of justice in Guyana.
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