The Canadian Government-funded, Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice), in collaboration with the Guyana Bar Association, held a meeting to sensitise attorneys-at-law in Guyana about continuing legal professional development (CLPD). The meeting was held at the Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown, on August 12, 2015 and was chaired by by President of the Guyana Bar Association, Christopher Ram.
The initiative is part of IMPACT Justice’s continued region-wide sensitisation programme on mandatory continuing legal professional development.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs; Hon. Basil Williams, said in his welcome address that continuing legal education will be an invaluable legal aid to ensuring respect for, and application of the rule of law to attend all professional engagements of practising and non-practising attorneys in the fraternity.
He pointed out that for attorneys to properly function in their respective capacities, they must be constantly updated on and informed which will be achieved through continuing legal education. He described the initiative as a timely infusion into the local legal system.
Professor Velma Newton, Regional Project Director of IMPACT Justice noted that the project is one funded by the Canadian government and has the ultimate goal of improving access to justice for the benefit of men, women, youth and businesses in CARICOM Member States.
She added that, “there is always a need to learn and develop. Continuing Legal Professional Development is something IMPACT Justice feels very strongly about and we would want to see it happening on a region-wide basis.”
Delivering the feature presentation was Hon. Michael Hylton, O.J., Q.C., Chairman of the General Legal Council of Jamaica.
In his presentation; “Continuing Legal Professional Development: The Jamaica Model,” Hylton shared how the CLPD programme was implemented in Jamaica.
He said that Jamaica implemented mandatory CLPD in January of 2013, and that it is based on a system of credits where each attorney is required to attain a certain number of credits each year; adding that where more than is needed for a calendar year is attained, those credits can be carried forward.
Hylton said that the means through which an attorney can accumulate credits include, formal education—encompassing reading for a Masters or other continuing programmes, teaching or writing or other legal learning or practice-based work. He however noted that most attorneys get their credits from attending seminars. Hylton added that accreditation certificates are awarded at the end of the acquisition of the requisite credits and that attorneys who have not attained their credits receive periodic warnings to ensure compliance.
Although he termed the Jamaican model of CLPD a “huge success,” Hylton acknowledged that there is room for development in several areas which the Council will address. The session concluded with a “Question and Answer” segment.
Among those in attendance were Acting Chief Justice Ian Chang, Court of Appeal Judges, Yonette Cummings and B.S Roy and Justice Duke Pollard, retired Judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice.