News
February 7, 2014
Bar association elects new excutive

Newly elected president of the local Bar Association, René Baptiste says she is ready to go to work to help to enhance the legal profession here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

Baptiste, along with her new executive were elected unopposed on Thursday, January 30, at the High Court in Kingstown.

The other members of the new executive include: Duane Daniel, vice president, Patricia Marks, secretary and Patina Knights as treasurer.

The committee members are; Mikhail Charles, LaTeisha Sandy, Shirlan Barnwell and past president, Dr Linton Lewis, who serves as the ex-officio.

Their term will last for two years.

Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, Baptiste said she bears in the mind, the speech given by the Chief Justice at the opening of the new law term in 2013, where she spoke about the reforms in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.

“I have a deep interest in dealing with the establishment of the commercial court and also to expand on the availability of an arbitration service in St Vincent and the Grenadines…,” Baptiste stated.

She said there are also plans afoot to commence the bench and bar committee. Baptiste noted that in conversation with Caricom, she was told to get lawyers together to look at the Harmonized Legal Profession Bill, which, she explained, provides that once lawyers obtain their practice certificate in one country, it is good for all countries.

“We have all these issues that we are going to look at. We have groups of young lawyers from the University of the West Indies, and who have studied in England that will enrich the quality of the bar because we have such a good cross fertilization there…”

It is also her hope to network with other OECS bar associations. Baptiste also said that while there is an OCES Bar Association, mention is mostly made of their law fair and annual general meeting.

“We need to see what else is going in that organization. We are really going to do some work on that,” she said.

A fired up Baptiste added that they plan to embark on community outreach in order to improve the public profile of the Bar Association as a professional body.

According to Baptiste, the public has, unfortunately over the years, spoken of the bar in unflattering terms.

“It is our hope that the programme that we will roll out for community outreach, improving public relations (will include) working with the police to try to mend that image and to build a fresh image because we have a lot of young people at the bar…,” she stated.

“We must have a working dialogue and relationship. Lawyers do not take sides. Our side is the court. Our side is justice.”

Baptiste says she intends to use her vast experience in the law to help to carry the Bar Association forward.

Baptiste has been a lawyer for the past 38 years, having been involved in offshore and private practice.

She also served as Member of Parliament for West Kingstown and was a former Minister of Tourism and Culture, in earlier Unity Labour Party administrations.