The annual Law Conference of the Belize Bar Association took place on Friday, featuring a wide variety of topics. It is a chance for local attorneys to get up to speed on critical issues affecting their profession and the wider society.
We spoke to President of the Association Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay.
“There’s a wide range of topics that will take place throughout the day, starting with a discussion by a presenter from England on digital assets. Things like if a person dies, suppose they don’t leave a will or if they don’t leave a will who has a right to contact [sites like] Gmail [or] Yahoo to get their password. Who has the right to their Facebook and that type of thing? So there have been cases in that area, and she will be talking to us about that.
Then we get into the criminal reform. There are some significant reforms that are being proposed, and are very near implementation in Belize. For example, anonymity of witnesses, circumstances in which witnesses will be able to give evidence in cases from remote locations, and no one knowing who they are.
Then a more commercial topic, a presentation on the question of the rights and remedies of persons who are being pursued by creditors. We have two speakers who are going to be giving some speeches on very recent developments in the law on the appointment of receivers, the rights of receivers, circumstances in which debts can and cannot be recovered, mistakes or serious issues in drafting legal documents, which then years later people have to rely on to collect, the implications of that.
This afternoon we’ll be talking about reform in the family law, the rules relative to divorces, custody, et cetera in Belize are over eighty years old, and practitioners have pointed out that they’re very, very inappropriate for today’s circumstances, and so we’ll be having presentations on that.”
The conference has not been held as regularly as some would like, but the Association is fulfilling its mandate as representative of the legal profession. According to Emon Courtenay, the amendment to the Legal Profession Act allowing multiple legal associations has so far failed to break the Bar.
“We are aware of two persons who have indicated that they do not wish to join the Bar. I can tell you that an overwhelming number of people have indicated to us that they intend to remain members of the Bar Association, and new lawyers coming in have said that they intend to join the Bar Association.
I have spoken to colleagues in a number of the firms in the profession, and they have all said that their firm members, lawyers and their firms, will all be joining. I do not expect that there is going to be any significant decrease in the number of attorneys, but today we will get a good idea, because that’s one of the questions on the usual questionnaire that we pass out at the Conference, how many people are going to continue to be members.
So, by the end of the day, we’ll have a very good idea.”
While it was not listed on the topics up for discussion on Friday, the Association is taking a close look at taking on pro bono work for indigent defendants and its ties to continuing legal education.