On Wednesday November 7, the Nation published a report headlined “COURT TWIST”. It recounted how Miss Elneth Kentish, one of our battery of so-called “High Court Judges” had recused herself from a case before her, on the basis that she herself would be suing one of the parties in the case for defamation, presumably arising out of the case. The details of the case, Coach House Limited v Joseph Jordan III, are not relevant here.
However, what is relevant is that, according to the Nation report (and the Appeal that has, it is alleged, since been filed) Miss Kentish, after having recused herself, went on to issue an order in the case. So, the allegations of the Nation and the Appeal being correct, she removes herself from the case and then issues an order in the case. Does this make sense to anyone – and we mean both and legal common sense.
And just what would have been so wrong in Miss Kentish (or our incompetent Registrar) writing to counsel on both sides in advance of their appearance before her, stating that she was recusing herself and maybe even copying them her letter to the CJ, so that they did not turn up in court and charge their clients for so doing for four hours AT LEAST of their time?
You want BU to approximate the barest minimum amount of money it has cost the litigants? We can do that, thanks to the Nation. We discover from the Nation that Mr Jordan was represented by attorneys Niles and Jackman and Coach House was represented by attorneys Abrahams, Peterson and Watkins – five attorneys billing no less than four hours each at a rate each of anything between $200 and $400 upwards per hour – we are being very conservative, however). So, at an average, Miss Kentish’s little amateur dramatic production cost the litigants approximately $6,000 in unnecessary legal fees, not to mention the fees counsel will charge for preparation. And added to which are the fees for an alleged appeal of an order that any first year law student would have known it was highly improper for the judge to give in the first place.
Come to that, what would have been so wrong for the Chief Justice to stop talking, read Miss Kentish’s letter and realise the financial impact on the litigants and the waste of court time, all so that Miss Kentish could (it certainly appears) attempt to terrorise one of the litigants from her position on the Bench, doubtless with a view to an out-of-court settlement of her alleged claim, and step in? Is that too much to expect from the man appointed chief justice, who is instead shaping up to be the biggest blowhard the country has even seen?
It is alleged that Miss Kentish has been unwell quite a lot recently, necessitating long periods of sick leave during which she has had to be replaced on the Bench. While BU sincerely wishes her a speedy recovery, it is clear that, if the Nation report is accurate, which the Appeal seems to suggest that it is, Miss Kentish’s judicial competence (however much there was of that to start with, which, given the unacceptably high rate of successful appeals against her decisions, is highly debatable) has been severely compromised.
The cost of appeals from decisions from incompetent/moronic judges of the Barbados judiciary, is colossal (not to mention the cost of appeals to the CCJ from almost equally incompetent justices of appeal) not just for the litigants, but for the taxpayer that has to fund the courts and their operation. It is also extremely damaging reputationally when “legitimate” organs of the press report (without actually understanding them, because if they did they would desist) these actions, not to mention the deterrent factor on foreign investment. Then there is the unacceptable financial and mental strain that litigants are placed under by those whose job it is to deliver justice.
It is obvious that Barbados’ judges, in addition to thinking that they have a constitutional right to be stupid, also have mixed up the dictionary definition of “justice” with that of “torture”.
So, in the hopes that she will do the judicial equivalent of falling on her sword (or any other sharp and protruding object available to her) and retire “on grounds of ill health”, we wish Miss Kentish all the best in her retirement and many years of enjoyment of the pension we, the taxpayers, will be forced to pay her in recompense for all she has failed to do for us and the money she has cost us, both in taxes and as litigants.
By retiring, Miss Kentish finally stands the chance of doing Barbados a great service, as, with any luck, the entire Bench, including the Chief Justice, will follow such a desirable and patriotic example and retire on grounds of ill health, real or imagined, and let us get some proper judges in place. Believe it that paying their pensions for the rest of their lives will be MUCH CHEAPER than allowing them to continue to subject us and those whose foreign currency we wish to attract, to their brand of total judicial incompetence and the ridicule of the rest of the world.