Bar Association of Belize prepares to debate an amendment

As the Bar Association of Belize prepares to debate an amendment that some argue could imperil its very existence, attorneys have come out for and against changes to the Legal Profession Act that would allow separate associations other than the Bar. Richard “Dickie” Bradley claimed that Attorney General Wilfred Elrington carried “ulterior motives” for seeking to push the legislation; the A.G. said today that the legislation was long in train.

Wilfred Elrington – Attorney General:
It’s nothing that just came up. So the suggestion that it is something that just came up and that there is some ulterior motive and we want to get after the PUPs in the Bar Association – there is no truth or substance to that.

REPORTER:
What the time frame when this will be taken to the house?

Wilfred Elrington – Attorney General:
Pretty soon, we are just waiting for comments from the judges and from the members of the Bar. We are acting in a very democratic way. We sent it to them for their discussion and for their input and I think that is proper and we will act upon the recommendations that they make. There is no desire nor intention of breaking up the Bar Association.

Former Attorney General Godfrey Smith, in an online column posted today, admits that there is a “kernel of truth” in what the A.G. said earlier this week that Bar members have not done enough to promote the profession and ensure high standards of practice. But he insisted that Elrington and Solicitor General Cheryl Krusen are being motivated by personal “hard feelings” against their fellow attorneys. Elrington disagrees; he says all the legislation is concerned with is the constitutionality for compulsory membership of the Association.

Wilfred Elrington – Attorney General:
vlcsnap-2013-03-15-19h50m59s147No, I don’t think the Bar Association will break up because the majority of the attorneys now to my understanding, belong to the PUP. So those people I don’t see would want to leave the Bar. they are content with it. The people who may not  subscribe to it are people who for one reason or the other are not content with it. I have not been happy with it for years, but not because I perceive the membership to be members of the PUP – that was not my rationale for not wanting to be associated with it.

The legislation, which has Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s support, goes to the House after consultations with interested parties by March 15.

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