How can our new Chief Justice succeed without proper funding?

Politicians would rather spend money on frivolities than foundational infrastructure

by BFP reader RRRicky (with Marcus)

Our newly-appointed Chief Justice, Marston Gibson, gave an interview in the Antigua Observer where he laid out his plans to implement the new civil procedure laws that were passed in Barbados in 2008.

Good Luck to Chief Justice Gibson. He’s going to need lots of luck because luck is all he has: there is no money for the staffing and operational improvements he wants to make. We have a brand new court building (with a leaky roof) that we’ll be paying out forever (and we aren’t allowed to know who we’re paying or how much) but we don’t have court reporters, administrative assistants or legal researchers to empower the Judges and the Justice system.

How tragic: a beautiful building financed on the never-never – but no budget for sufficient people, computers and equipment to make the system work as it should. Nice building though!

Another difference is that referees do not have the same legal support structure as judges. They do not have law clerks or secretaries and, therefore, must do their own legal research when drafting opinions, Gibson said.

To that end, he said, he will be able to relate to judges in Barbados, who also do not have clerks and secretaries to help them.

“One of the big-ticket items for me is to try to give some thought to how I can get them some assistance, so that they can concentrate on judging and have some assistance with their research and their writing,” Gibson said.

Barbados Chief Justice Mastron Gibson in the Antigua Observer

Our Justice System is foundational to our society, so why don’t politicians fund it properly?

Think of the Justice System as necessary societal infrastructure: just like sewers, water, power, policing, health care, roads etc.. Barbados governments prefer to spend money on big flashy projects or small give-aways traded for votes: not on necessary infrastructure. A cricket showplace is sexy and a great photo opportunity – sewerage treatment plants are not vote-getter sexy.

Barbados governments don’t mind giving away millions for weed-eaters and lawn care equipment in a failed effort to make entrepreneurs out of block layabouts, but to provide funding to put sufficient telephones and court reporting equipment in the new court building? Never!

Seldom do our governments put adequate money into basic infrastructure like sewers, sidewalks, water distribution, policing, hospital or justice until things get so bad that they are falling apart. Consider the library. Think of the state of our health care facilities.

Chief Justice Simmons had conflicting loyalties… and the BLP usually came first

The last Chief Justice was an integral part of the politics and the political decisions that devoted spending to frills, not to the foundations of our society. Sir David Simmons left us with a shiny new building and a broken, understaffed court system where cases often drag on for over a decade and sometimes two! He and his BLP left us with a court system where accused persons spend years in jail waiting for trials that never happen. Sir David kept his silence about that because it was his own BLP comrades who were to blame.

Marston Gibson is different. I believe he will work with what he is given, but if it isn’t enough, his loyalty will be to Barbados and making our Justice System the best it can be. Chief Justice Gibson has already shown that he speaks his mind without concern for the political elites.

I like that. It gives me hope that we finally have a Chief Justice whose first loyalty is to the people, not to his old political comrades.

You watch: if the politicians don’t provide an adequate budget to allow Barbados to have the justice system it deserves, we’re going to hear about it right from the Chief Justice. There will be no whitewashing or looking the other way with this man.

I like that a lot.


Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law

10 responses to “How can our new Chief Justice succeed without proper funding?

  1. Jiackie

    I read in the Wikileaked documents in 2006 our courts had 18 busted stenographer machines but no money to have them fixed. It could be those machines are still waiting for repair!

  2. solution

    Maybe Canada which filters billions of Dollars through Barbados each year can spend one week of tax leakage to the Canadian taxpayer and help fix the legal system with the basics. and all the canadian firms and service providers?

    Then again maybe the Canadian Banks could step up to the plate and do more to solve Barbvados serious problems?

    Money talks and with proper direction it can be used for turning this tragic abusive system around.

  3. Mashup en BuyBack!

    18 broken machines? -are we talking about the hospital here?

    Maintenance is not in our DNA, sorry..

  4. Mashup en BuyBack!


    Are we such a poor-assed nation that Barbados can’t fix it own stenographer-machine problems?
    Why do white ppl from outside have to fix them for us.

    How much could this cost that BARBADOS ITS PROUD SELF
    can’t fix its own problems??
    NO, man! ..doan tell me dat!

    I shame to be beggin so…

  5. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    If any can tell me where the government has proven good record building maintenance I will declare myself a goat with horns and rope

  6. Sarah Daniels

    If the new CJ will succeed he will have to look at the Bar and reform the rules and have wayward attorneys properly sanctioned. This authority my start from the top. Unless this happens then we are not going anywhere and will not get there. CJ ought to allow attorneys from USA and England to come and practice and run legal aid clinics for the needy. This will give the litigant in person “access to justice” which today is seriously lacking in the whole Carribean. Unless you have money you cannot go to Court so your evil doer can send you to youir grave without any remedy. The CJ is well aware of all the NOT-FOR PROFIT organisations that do a good job in the USA and UK. If these are implemeneted in Barbados it will then opend the eyes of the system and hopefully the doors to other parts of the Caribbean. Please CJ you know that “equity” does not act in vain so kindly try and give me a listening ear!

  7. RRRicky

    People are skeptical about our court system and for good reasons. I fear that our new Chief Justice will not be given the budget he needs to make the system work as it should. This could be a no-win situation for him.

  8. watcher


    maybe its time to have discussions again about becoming a Province of Canada. They have taken place before. Replacing the US dollar with the Canadian dollar could be a great benefit. Tying the Barbados treasury to the Canadian economic future looks to be a better bet than tying it to the US economic future. After all, how many US banks do you see on the island and if there were no Canadian banks, who could fill the void?

  9. Pingback: Meet our new Magistrate: Priest, lawyer, ex-cop Graveney Bannister | Barbados Free Press

  10. Newbie

    @ Sarah Daniels
    You are so right in your assessment of the state of affairs when it comes to receiving or even simply seeking justice in Barbados. The wrongdoers have so much confidence that they will never see the inside of a courthouse or that if they are ever called they can either ignore, or simply buy their way out of the case. They actually laugh in the face of their victims and dare them to seek justice. We do not need Canadians, Americans or the British to fix our problems, all we need are honest people in the positions of importance. As you have said Sarah there is no suitable mechanism available for those without vast sums of money to seek justice and justice should be accessible to all, NOT ONLY THE WEALTHY. Guilty or not someone is always found and punished when a prominent figure or the wealthy is disadvantaged by crime and found real quick too. I believe that Mr GIBSON have one hell of a job ahead of him and I would hope that he does not succumb to the age old temptation of IF YOU CAN’T BEAT EM JOIN EM but hey THIS IS BARBADOS!! I wish Mr GIBSON all the luck in the world, he is going to need it.