Guyana has the fourth highest population of lawyers among countries in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), but lacks lawyers in specialist areas of oil and gas, energy, agriculture and intellectual property.
The deficiency was highlighted in the final report based on a Survey of Legal Education System in CARICOM Member States.
Guyana has an estimated 1, 120 lawyers and a population of 735,909. This works out to about one lawyer per 657 persons with between 25 and 30 new lawyers qualifying annually.
The report highlights that among the CARICOM member states, there is an insufficiency in criminal defence lawyers which leads to delays in trial; shortage of lawyers in the areas of aviation, cybercrime, insurance, marine, telecommunications and intellectual property.
The report pointed out that in a particular country about five lawyers are added to the profession annually and are likely to find places in the private sector, leaving the government and judiciary to find it necessary to recruit lawyers from outside the country.
The report highlighted the scarceness of lawyers in rural areas and insolvency, too few insolvency and financial services practitioners and other specialized areas.
According to the report, there are situations “in which magistrates are now dealing with increasingly serious cases are not legally qualified. There are times when criminal law specialists are being seconded to civil work; lack of senior lawyers in Government service.
The report establishes that there are an estimated 10, 900 lawyers in CARICOM between 2015 and 2016 with Trinidad and Tobago topping the list with approximately 3,000, followed by Jamaica with 2, 642, the Bahamas with 1, 317. Guyana was fourth.
Fifth was Barbados with 972, followed by Belize with 251. In St. Lucia there is an estimate of between 100 and 200 lawyers while in Antigua and Barbuda there is an active cohort of 138 lawyers.
Over in St. Kitts and Nevis there is an estimate of 129 lawyers; while in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada there is an estimate of 100 lawyers respectively. The report highlighted that in Dominica there is actually an estimate of 30 lawyers but 100 of them are on roll. There is an estimated 21 lawyers in Montserrat.
The Report is the result of a survey conducted between 2016 and 2017 by the Improved Access to Justice in the Commonwealth Caribbean (IMPACT Justice), a regional justice sector reform project being funded by the Government of Canada and being implemented from within the Caribbean Law Institute, Faculty of Law, University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill, Campus, in Barbados.
The Consultants Ching and Watson visited Guyana in October, 2016 and held meetings with members of the judiciary, representatives of the University of Guyana (UG), a senior practitioner, the Attorney General and members of his staff and the Minister of Education.
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