OECS Bar History
In the 1989, a group of lawyers within the jurisdiction of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court came together primarily to address two main issues: the terms and conditions of work of the judiciary and the ethics of the profession. This need to promote improved conditions of service for the judges was motivated by the fact that our judges cannot lobby for themselves and were not being accorded the priority consideration necessary to ensure that the outstanding service which they render under very difficult conditions of low salaries, poor housing, inadequate transportation and restricted pension benefits was not undermined. It was felt that this could only be achieved by the formation of an association to lobby the regional government.
This high level lobbying undertaken by the association has resulted in many enhance terms of service for our judiciary.
Given the Association’s concerns about the ethics of the profession, one of its first achievements was the promulgation of a Code of Ethics for the profession, which was adopted by all the constituent bars in the Association, and to which each lawyer is meant to adhere.
The Association has made significant contribution to legal education and reform of the legal profession. It drafted a model legal profession bill which has been adopted, with some modification, by most of the jurisdictions with only two in advanced stages of the legislative process.
The Association has also organized and hosted the Regional Law Conference and Symposium, the latter jointly with the Judicial Education Institute of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, in an effort to facilitate interaction between and among members of the bench and bar and to provide an opportunity for continuing legal education to members of the legal profession, judiciary and the public. It enables attendees to hear from law professionals , other lecturers, legal luminaries and members of the judiciary about legal development in the jurisdiction and beyond. It also provides an opportunity to network with members of the legal profession and to create strategic alliances.
The association has had eight presidents during its existence. The founding president was the late Joseph S Archibald QC of the British Virgin Islands who passed away in 2014 and who remained very active in the Association up until his sudden passing. The second was the late Cosmos O R Phillips QC of Antigua and Barbuda, who wrote the original constitution of the Association, and was the first honorary life member. The third president was the late Othneil Sylvester, CMG, QC, of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The fourth was Courtney A. Abel, of Anguilla, the fifth was the late Nicole Sylvester of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, who conceptualized the Regional Law Conference and who was its chairperson for the first nine years. She passed away in 2015. Sir Tapley Seaton KC of Saint Kitts and Nevis was the 6th president while is Ruggles Ferguson KC of St. Grenada was the 7th president. Thaddeus M Antoine of Saint Lucia is the Immediate Past President and Jean M. Dyer of Anguilla is the current President.