How long would any Harlequin Resorts court cases take to reach trial?
Sophisticated business and financial industry investors have long had the word: civil cases in Barbados take at least 10 years and often up to 20 years to make their way through the courts. Many court cases never finish because witnesses, victims, plaintiffs, defendants, lawyers and judges move away or die.
When cases take 15 or 20 years to get to trial, people often die or go broke – or both. After 15 or 20 years plaintiffs can no longer afford their lawyers. Defendants go bankrupt (sometimes planned) – leaving victims no real prospect of recovering anything.
“New business investors in Barbados now make their decisions accordingly in the knowledge that if things go wrong there will probably be no real recourse through a lawsuit.”
But consider what this means for existing investors and business people who didn’t know about the state of our courts when they made their original decisions about doing business or entering into legal contracts in Barbados. Consider what this means now for all those potential Harlequin victims. If they want justice in Barbados, they have two choices: be prepared to spend the next decade or two and tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees in pursuit of justice, or walk away.
“Chief Justice Marston Gibson: Court chaos threatens Barbados international business sector
Marston Gibson describes massive backlog, missing case files, deliberate delaying tactics by unscrupulous profiteering lawyers”
from BFP’s March 12, 2012 article: Shocking mathematics of the Barbados Court system: Thousands of cases will never reach conclusion
The reality of the court system in Barbados
Faced with an unbelievable backlog approaching 3000 cases, Chief Justice SIR Marston Gibson has decided to give thousands of folks a shove to abandon all hope for justice through the courts of Barbados.
A new direction gives everyone about 30 days to confirm their intentions and then Barbados will start tossing cases out the window. It is a sad and embarrassing admission for our country and it wouldn’t be so bad except that we’ve done it before. And… we’ll probably do it again. That doesn’t build confidence in our courts or in our country as a place to do business or place investments.
You cannot blame Chief Justice Gibson because he inherited the legacy of 15 years of BLP government underfunding, and Attorney General and then Chief Justice SIR David Simmons’ wrong decisions about the courts. Owen Arthur and David Simmons thought that courts are buildings. They were wrong: Courts are people, procedures and supporting technologies. CJ Simmons concentrated on buildings, neglected the supporting technologies and failed to provide the direction, leadership and discipline to keep the lawyers and judges from slipping into the lazy funk that permeates the courts.
Today the sad truth is that our legal profession and the courts are not even concerned with the appearance of justice. If the judges really cared about justice they would rip into lawyers who arrive late or aren’t prepared. They would fire court employees who are like little dictators with no care for results.
But our judges and lawyers are part of the “Old Boy” network. The courts are for their profit, not for justice.
BFP August 26, 2012: Chief Justice Gibson admits no progress on court backlog