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News Article
Government To Abide By Court Order
Government To Abide By Court Order

The Government of the Bahamas and the police will not be taking any action against the patrons and operators of local "web shops" pending the outcome of a "conservatory order" filed by attorney Wayne Munroe.

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Court dismisses appeal by fraudster

Calling the 16-month period he waited to make his appeal "inordinate and inexcusable", the Court of Appeal has dismissed an attempt by a man accused of a financial fraud against Bahamian...

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News Article
Court reporters stage sick-out

A sick-out by 25 stenographers crippled operations at the courts yesterday as there was no one to take the official record of some proceedings...

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News Article
Senior Justice Anita Allen to head Court of Appeal

PRIME Minister Hubert Ingraham revealed yesterday that Senior Justice Anita Allen will be appointed as President of the Bahamas Court of Appeal in January 2011, with incumbent President Dame Joan Sawyer set to retire this month.

Prime Minister Ingraham revealed the intended appointment at a televised press conference at the British Colonial Hotel yesterday.

Senior Justice Anita Allen will be made President of the Court of Appeal in January, Prime Minister Ingraham said yesterday.

The constitutional retirement age of a Court of Appeal Justice is 68, however Dame Joan will turn 70 on November 26 and complete the two-year granted extension.

Dame Joan was appointed President of the Court of Ap ...

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Sir Lynden's and the PLP's entitled imperial court

During the 2012 general election, Sir Lynden Pindling's widow took to the political stage as a part of the PLP's strategy to use the late prime minister's legacy to help the party secure victory. It is debatable how successful was the strategy...

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News Article
Supreme Court Appointments

Nassau, Bahamas -

Chief Justice Sir Michael Barnett
is pleased to announce the appointment of Justice Roy Jones as a Justice of the
Supreme Court and Mr. Milton A. Evans as an acting Justice of the Supreme Court.
Both Justice Jones and Mr. Evans will be sworn in by the Governor General on
Tuesday, 1st February, 2011.

Justice Jones served as a Justice
of the High Court of Jamaica from April, 2002 to December, 2010. On 20th
December, 2010, he was sworn in to act as a Justice of the Court of Appeal of Jamaica. Justice
Jones also served as an acting Justice of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands between January, 2010 and March, 2010...

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News Article
Appeals court to consider resentence on manslaughter

The Court of Appeal will today hear arguments on the appropriate sentence for a man whose murder conviction was reduced to manslaughter on appeal.
After substituting the murder conviction with one of manslaughter, the Court of Appeal gave Dominique Moss a 25-year sentence for killing a woman in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
The Privy Council sent the case back to the Court of Appeal last November after ruling that Moss had the right to be heard on an appropriate penalty.
At the Privy Council, Moss' attorney argued that the sentence of 25 years is, on the facts of this case, manifestly excessive both generally and in particular because the sentence imposed by the trial judge on his co-accused was one of six years.
The court ruled, "The defendant was, and is, entitled to address the proper factual basis for sentence now that the conviction for murder has been quashed.
"He is entitled to address the relative roles of the two accused. He is entitled to address the proper tariff for manslaughter in The Bahamas, the proper place within that tariff for the present."
The high court was referring to the sentencing range for manslaughter, and whether the crime deserves the most severe penalty.
In the early hours of the morning, the defendant and his co-accused took the female victim from a bar and onto a golf course with the object of having sexual intercourse with her, according to the evidence.
There was evidence that she was reluctant to go. Her body was found the next morning in standing water on the course.
Her throat had been cut to the extent that her head was almost severed from her body. There were signs of sexual assault. In police interviews Moss and Lotmore each asserted that the other had killed her.

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News Article


Tribune Staff Reporter

NEW Court of Appeal President Anita Allen called her appointment to the head of the Bahamas' appellate court the "culmination and exclamation point of a lifelong love and passion for the law."

Judge Allen, formerly a senior justice of the Supreme Court, was sworn in yesterday as the new president of the Bahamas Court of Appeal at a brief ceremony at Government House attended by about 300 guests.

"There are defining moments in one's life, and certainly, today is one of them for me. It is the culmination and exclamation point of a lifelong love of and passion for the law," Judge Allen said after ...

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News Article
Global Coalition Urges Egypt to Join the International Criminal Court

New York, NY --

Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC)

--a global network of more
than 2,500 civil society organizations in 150 countries advocating for a fair,
effective and independent ICC and improved access to justice for victims of
genocide, war crimes and crimes
against humanity--today

called on Egypt to demonstrate its
commitment to international justice and
the rule of law by ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
(ICC) and the Agreement on
Privileges and Immunities of the
Court (APIC). The Coalition has selected Egypt as a focus for its May 2012 Universal
Ratification Campaign (URC), a monthly campaign launched to encourage countries
to join the Rome Statute. Recent parliamentary elections and
upcoming presidential elections make this an opportune time for Egypt
to display its commitment to justice and
the rule of law by joining the Rome Statute, the Coalition said...

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News Article
(VIDEO) - Supreme Court fee structure simplified

Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham tabled Amendment Bills in
Parliament Monday, July 26th, 2010 which would change the fee structure for matters
before the Supreme Court.

Instead of lawyers having to make out multiple cheques for small
amounts to process matters before the Court, each matter will now
require the payment of a single fee.

This is expected to make the processing of matters before the Court quicker and more efficient.

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News Article
UBS (Bahamas) denied chance to take 34.2 million claim case to Privy Council

The Court of Appeal has ruled against an attempt by UBS (Bahamas) to appeal a decision of the court to the Privy Council in London saying the case at hand is not one of general public importance.
UBS had sought leave to appeal to the Privy Council the Court of Appeal's ruling from July 31, 2013, in which it ruled in favor of Standard Chartered Bank (Switzerland) in a matter relating to a $34.2 million claim by Standard Chartered Bank on UBS (Bahamas).
In that ruling, reviewing a decision of the chief justice which had struck out the Standard Chartered's claim, Justices Anita Allen, Christopher Blackman and Neville Adderley sent the case back to the Supreme Court for retrial.
The judges said at the time that the chief justice's ruling on the matter was "unsafe", and based on "incomplete evidence".
However, UBS (Bahamas) had, according to the most recent ruling from the Court of Appeal, sought to challenge its decision to send the matter back for a re-trial on numerous grounds that "for the most part, revolve around this court's purported failure to consider and make a determination on the facts, and its purported failure to apply the relevant law."
In response, the Court of Appeal held that the issue at hand is not "one of general public importance" and they will only be "properly answered" if the retrial that was initially ordered by the Court goes ahead.
"We believe it would be premature to send the matter to the Privy Council when all of the facts have not been established," said Justices Anita Allen, Stanley John, and Abudulai Conteh.
_The case revolves around a number of shares held as collateral for a loan by UBS (Bahamas) which the Bahamas office of the Swiss bank had agreed to transfer to Standard Chartered Bank (Switzerland), according to court documents.
The shares were beneficially owned by a mutual customer of the two banks, CIF, in 2008, who owed UBS (Bahamas) "in excess of $30 million".
According to the Court of Appeal judgment on the matter, an agreement to transfer the shares from UBS (Bahamas) to Standard Chartered (Switzerland) took place via the SWIFT messaging system in November 2008, after CIF obtained a loan from Standard Chartered Bank to pay its debt to UBS (Bahamas).
The two banks agreed to transfer the shares to Standard Chartered (Switzerland) once the Swiss bank sent $34.2 million - the amount of its loan to CIF to cover its UBS debt - to UBS.
On November 12, 2008, Standard Chartered (Switzerland) transferred the funds to UBS (Bahamas) and UBS (Bahamas) began initiating the process of transferring the shares - comprising 98,068 shares in Kingate Global Fund Limited and 36,356.58 shares in Thema Fund Limited.
However, in the meantime, the Bernie Madoff fraud led to a collapse in the value of the shares and a suspension of trading in them.
"The value of the shares collapsed as a result of the well-publicized Bernie Madoff fraud. On the 12th of December, 2008, before the shares were transferred, trading in the shares were suspended and this action was commenced on the basis that the shares could no longer be transferred," said the judgment on Standard Chartered's appeal against the chief justice's ruling.
"The plaintiff (Standard Chartered) had requested the return of the $34.2 million on the grounds that as the shares had not been and could no longer be transferred to it, the condition for payment had not been satisfied and therefore the plaintiff said it was entitled to the return of its money."
Standard Chartered (Switzerland) asserted that since the shares were not transferred following its transferral of $34.2 million to UBS, the "consideration for the payment under the contract had wholly failed".
However, UBS said that "it had performed all that was required of it under the contract".

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News Article
Supreme Court rules against Cotton Bay
Supreme Court rules against Cotton Bay

Developers behind Cotton Bay Estates Limited have come up short in a Supreme Court ruling that denies the validity of $11 million worth of performance bonds.

The ruling, filed on behalf of Judge Stephen G. Isaacs, sided with CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank (Bahamas) and Penn's Renovation & Construction Company, claiming "the bonds are not valid and enforceable against the bank".

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News Article
Constitutional reform, pt. 10

The Bahamas has executed by hanging 50 condemned persons from December 1929 to January 6, 2000, pursuant to the sentence of death pronounced by the Supreme Court of The Bahamas. There is presently one condemned prisoner awaiting execution. The murder rate is currently at 94 and climbing. Therefore, the fear of violent crime has elicited a public cry for a solution to crime. For some the resumption of hanging is the answer, in spite of the compelling evidence that capital punishment is not a deterrent to the rising rate of violent crime and the risk of wrongful convictions.
Professor Ann Spackman, in her book "Constitutional Development of the West Indies 1922-1968" (1975) at page 21, argues that one of the legacies of plantation slavery, colonialism and racial oppression in the Caribbean is the continuing "emphasis on coercion and control" and the existence of harsh laws enforced in a punitive spirit during most of the historical experience of the Caribbean since 1492.

Lloyd Barnett, Q.C., in an essay entitled "The Present Position Regarding the Enforcement of Human Rights in the Commonwealth" in the West Indian Law Journal (November 1980), counters that the Commonwealth Caribbean, in addition to having legacies of slavery and colonialism, has also been the beneficiary of the common law which flowered into passionate self-determination and aspiring constitutionalism.
However, the challenge facing constitutional jurisprudence in the Caribbean is to move away from the English techniques of statutory interpretation, applicable to ordinary legislation, when interpreting the Constitution that requires a more flexible and purposive interpretation, informed by international human rights instruments and the evolving global standard of human rights, human decency and norm of respect. The Privy Council, in A.G. of Gambia v. Jobe (1985), held that there should be a liberal and contextual construction of the Constitution to give effect to the intent and purpose of the Constitution.
The tension between the punitive application of the law and restorative justice approach is most vividly illustrated around the issue of the death penalty in The Bahamas. Articles 16, 17 and 30 of the Bahamian Constitution provide:
16. (1) No person shall be deprived intentionally of his life save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offense of which he has been convicted.
(2) A person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of his life in contravention of this Article if he dies as a result of the use, to such extent and in such circumstances as are permitted by law, of such force as is reasonably justified...
17. (1) No person shall be subjected to torture to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
(2) Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this Article to the extent that the law in question authorizes the infliction of any description of punishment that was lawful in the Bahama Islands immediately before 10th July 1973.
30. (1)... Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any written law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of any provision of Articles 16 to 27 (inclusive) of this Constitution to the extent that the law in question -
(a) is a law (in this Articles referred to as 'an existing law') that was enacted or made before 10th July 1973 and has continued to be part of the law of The Bahamas at all times since that day.
Saving clauses, such as contained in Article 17 (2) and the general saving clause contained in Article 30 (a), which were intended to be transitional until law reform removed existing laws inconsistent with the Constitution, are sometimes used to limit the enforcement of personal liberties granted by the Constitution.
Chief Justice Telford Georges, in an essay entitled "The Scope and Limitations of the State Machinery" in Human Rights and Development (1978) at page 45, argued, with respect to a similar clause in the Constitution of Trinidad & Tobago, that such clauses "... considerably limits the scope of the machinery of judicial review as a method of enforcement of the rights apparently enshrined in the Constitution. The judicial view... is that the constitutions create no new rights. They merely preserve existing rights."
Article 30 (a) is construed as saving Section 312 of the Penal Code that pronounces that the death penalty is the punishment for murder as being compatible with and not in contravention of any of the fundament rights and freedoms contained in Articles 15 to 27. Until 2011 the mandatory sentence of death by hanging was applied upon the conviction of murder and treason.
However, the Privy Council, informed by the evolving jurisprudence in Europe, has forced the Commonwealth Caribbean to conform to the evolving standard of human decency and human rights in the application of the death penalty. In 1993 the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, in the case Pratt and Another v. Attorney General of Jamaica (1993), held that the execution of the death penalty after five years was unconscionable delay and would constitute a contravention of Article 17 (1) of the Constitution, except where the delay had been the fault of the accused.
This ruling resulted in scores of condemned prisoners in The Bahamas having their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment due to delay. In 2000 the Privy Council, in Neville Lewis, overturned Reckley v. Minister of Public Safety and Immigration (1996) and held that (a) a condemned prisoner has a right to the secure protection of the law and to due process which would be denied if he were to be executed before the completion of a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; (b) that a condemned prisoner who applied for mercy had a due process right to know what material had been placed before the Prerogative Committee on Mercy and be afforded the right to make representations and know the reasons for the decision of which the process is subject to judicial review; and (c) that the passage of time and their treatment in prison may constitute inhuman or degrading treatment.
In Henfield and Ricardo Farrington v. A.G. of The Bahamas, the Privy Council reduced the period by which The Bahamas must execute a condemned prisoner from five years to three and a half years due to an oversight that The Bahamas is a party to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The five-year rule was subsequently reinstated. The Privy Council, in Forrester Bowe, Jr. and Trono Davis v. The Queen (2006), held that section 312 of the Penal Code Act that declares the mandatory sentence of death for the conviction of murder "should be construed as imposing a discretionary and not a mandatory sentence to death". Consequently, the mandatory sentences of death imposed on Forrester Bowe, Jr. and Trono Davis were quashed and the cases were remitted to the Supreme Court for consideration of appropriate sentences.
In light of the Privy Council's ruling in Forrester Bowe, Jr., the Parliament of The Bahamas amended the Penal Code Act in 2011, by removing the mandatory sentence of death for the conviction murder and setting out the circumstances that will attract the death penalty of a person convicted for murder, such as the murder of a member of the police force, a prison officer, a member of the defence force, a judicial officer, a witness, a juror, the murder of a person during the course of a felony or the murder of more than one person.
Trends in thinking
The trend in judicial reasoning by the Privy Council, informed by the evolving standard of human rights and human decency, will eventually lead, in my opinion, to a judicial finding that the death penalty is contrary to human rights and human decency. The reaction in The Bahamas and the wider Commonwealth Caribbean to this trend has been a desperate effort to retain the death penalty. In this context, some advocates have proposed delinking The Bahamas from the Privy Council as the final appellate court for The Bahamas in favor of either the establishment of final appellate court in The Bahamas or by accepting the compulsory original jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice. The Bahamian society, on reflection, must determine whether the death penalty is a deterrent to crime or cold-blooded killing by the state, which brutalizes the offender and the society. When the state kills does it lessen its offensiveness and elevate killing into principle? If the justification is the principle of "an eye for an eye", should we not also advocate that rape be undertaken by the state as a punishment for rape?
Chief Justice Gubbay of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe, in the case Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe v. Attorney General and Others (1993), argued that retribution is not a sound rationale for the death penalty as follows: "Because retribution has no place in the scheme of civilized jurisprudence, one cannot turn a deaf ear to the plea made for the enforcement of constitutional rights. Humaneness and dignity of the individual are the hallmarks of civilized laws. Justice must be done dispassionately and in accordance with constitutional mandates. The question is not whether this court condones the evils committed by the four condemned prisoners, for certainly it does not. It is whether the acute mental suffering and brooding horror of being hanged which has haunted them in their condemned cells over the long lapse of time since the passing of sentence of death, is consistent with the guarantee against inhuman, or degrading punishment or treatment."
The European Court of Human Rights in the case Soering v. the United Kingdom (1989) abolished the death penalty in the European Union. Similarly, South Africa, Australia, India, New Zealand, Namibia, The Gambia, for example, have also abolished the death penalty. In the United States, 18 states have abolished the death penalty.
In The Bahamas, without an adequate public defender's system, there is a significant risk that innocent persons may be wrongly convicted for murder, since most defendants in capital cases tend to be poor African-Bahamian men, sometimes with mental problems and background of abuse. There needs to be a more disciplined focus on the causes of crime in The Bahamas and the comparative deterrence of the death penalty in relation to life imprisonment.
1. The government should commission The College of the Bahamas and the Eugene Dupuch Law School to conduct a scientific study to determine the comparative deterrence between the death penalty and life imprisonment to inform public education and policy on the issue of the death penalty.
2. The law reform commissioner should be directed to conduct a comprehensive review of all "existing laws" that may be saved under the "existing law provisions" of the Constitution and recommend amendments to ensure consistency of all laws with the Constitution.
o Alfred Sears is an attorney, a former member of Parliament and a former attorney general of The Bahamas.

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News Article
Mrs Claire Hepburn appointed Justice of the Supreme Court
Mrs Claire Hepburn appointed Justice of the Supreme Court

His Excellency, the Governor-General, has, on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, appointed Mrs Claire Hepburn as a Justice of the Supreme Court and has conferred on the Honourable Mr Justice Lyons the title of “Senior Justice”.

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"Accused Patrick Lynch, Dr Jeffery Pyne and Catherine Barber are facing the court"

The former executives of the Gordon 'Butch' Stewart-owned Appliance Traders (ATL) Group who are facing fraud charges are to next appear in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court on October 11.

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News Article
Tennis Courts At National Center To Be Named After Mark Knowles

When the celebrations for Mark Knowles come to an end the former Bahamian tennis pro, could go to the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association's (BLTA) National Tennis Centre and watch the young and upcoming stars train on a facility named in his honor.

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News Article
Minnis to bring death penalty bill

Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said last night he intends to table a bill in the House of Assembly today that would remove the impediments to capital punishment.
"We acknowledge the preponderance of modern research which asserts that it cannot be shown that the death penalty has a deterrent effect upon the mind of the would-be murderer," said Minnis in a new year's address televised on Cable 12.
"That may be so, but what is also clear in our Bahamas is that today there is a hardened criminal element who have nothing but contempt for law, order, or human suffering, and for whom there is no respect for human life, even the lives of innocent by-standers and children.
"At the very least there should be the certainty of sure punishment, and punishment which is appropriate to the crimes committed."
Minnis said the bill would address several weaknesses in the laws that have caused the Privy Council to overturn capital sentences for convicted murderers.
He said the bill would mandate that an appeal against the death penalty can only be made to The Bahamas' Court of Appeal and nowhere else; and if a delay between the conviction of the murderer and the proposed date of hanging is caused then the five-year limit imposed by the Privy Council would not apply.
Minnis said the bill would also mandate that the governor general prescribe time limits for the lodging and conclusion of all appeals against conviction, or constitutional appeals, and if the same are not concluded within such time limits, the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy would be able to advise that the law should be brought into execution.
He said the bill would also seek to remove the constitutional right to trial by jury in cases of murder, manslaughter, or crimes involving the use of firearms to inflict harm or death, and particularly in instances where there is a likelihood of jury or witness tampering or intimidation.
He said in such instances the case would be heard by a panel of two Supreme Court judges along with a qualified non-judicial attorney called an assessor.
He noted that as the bill seeks to affect fundamental rights and freedoms, which are enshrined in the constitution, it would require a national constitutional referendum.
"My fellow Bahamians, it will be up to each and every one of you to decide whether these proposals become law by way of an amendment of our constitution," he said.
The last hanging in The Bahamas was carried out on January 6, 2000 when David Mitchell was executed for murdering a German couple.
There are three men in the country who are under the sentence of death: Kofhe Goodman, Anthony Clarke Jr. and Mario Flowers.
Chairman of the Constitutional Commission Sean McWeeney noted on Monday that capital punishment is unlikely as long as the Privy Council is the final court of appeal for the country.
The Constitutional Commission last year recommended the retention of the Privy Council as the final court of appeal, but called for the government to amend the law to increase the likelihood that the death penalty would be carried out.
It said Parliament should amend the law to "tie the hands" of the Privy Council.
In March 2006, the Privy Council ruled that the mandatory death sentence in The Bahamas was unconstitutional. Following that ruling, several men who were sentenced to death were resentenced to life in prison.
In 2011, Parliament passed a law outlining the categories of murder which would attract the death penalty.
Prime Minister Perry Christie recently told The Guardian that the government is "seriously considering" strengthening those laws.
The Bahamas hanged 50 men since 1929, according to records at Her Majesty's Prisons.

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Halsbury Chambers Partner Nerissa Greene Wins Precedent-Setting Case Involving Prenuptial Agreements
Halsbury Chambers Partner Nerissa Greene Wins Precedent-Setting Case Involving Prenuptial Agreements

Nerissa A. Greene, partner, Halsbury Chambers wins precedent-setting case in support of pre-nuptial agreements. Chief Justice Sir Michael Barnett issued a comprehensive 24-page ruling affirming the contract.

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Woman wins damages from Kerzner International

The Bahamas Court of Appeal has allowed the appeal of a woman seeking damages against Kerzner International Bahamas Ltd. and Island Hotel Company Ltd. (IHC) for a workplace injury.
Justice Anita Allen, president of the Court of Appeal, delivered the judgment concerning the October 2, 2013 decision in the Supreme Court, which had found the hotel entities not responsible for an on-the-job injury suffered by Bimini Road Restaurant employee Patrice McKenzie.
In her judgment for the appeal, Allen stated: "We allow the appeal, set aside the judgment of the learned judge and enter judgment for the appellant on liability, with damages to be assessed by the Supreme Court."
McKenzie claimed damages, interest and costs with respect to personal injuries suffered as a result of a slip and fall on a wet floor in the kitchen of the Bimini Road Restaurant, part of Paradise Island's Marina Village. The incident occurred on July 20, 2006.
The fall resulted in injuries to McKenzie's right knee, right elbow, lower back and left ankle. The original suit further claimed that upon the injury to McKenzie's knee, her knee collapsed on September 8, 2006, causing her to fall and to fracture her left ankle.
The original lawsuit claimed that IHC, "failed to ensure the safety of that area" or take adequate measures "to prevent such levels of water and grease on its floor as would endanger its employees".
The defendants held that the accident was "wholly or alternatively contributed to by reason of the negligence of [McKenzie]", who they claimed failed to adequately assess the conditions of her workspace.
Several witnesses, including the restaurant's manager, claimed that the area of the restaurant kitchen where the incident took place was frequently wet and the mats provided were insufficient to prevent slipping.
Justice Milton Evans delivered the original ruling in the companies' favor, stating that while he did not share their view that McKenzie contributed to her accident, he did not feel that the defendants were "negligent in their efforts to safeguard the premises".
"It has to be recognized that there are inherent dangers in certain work places and that, notwithstanding best efforts, accidents will occur," said Evans.
Evans cited the 1991 Sturrup vs. Resorts International (Bahamas) ruling as a precedent, which claimed that "each person, even while performing [their] duty as an employee, has to assume a measure of responsibility for [their] own safety".
Allen's oral judgment was delivered on July 14. No reasons for allowing the appeal or figures for the damages have yet been provided.
Sharon Wilson of Sharon Wilson & Co. represented McKenzie, while Lakeisha Strachan of Harry B. Sands, Lobosky and Company acted as the counsel for the respondents.

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News Article
Judge: 'Nothing but hurt' over banks' bias claim

A justice of the Court of Appeal claimed he has suffered "nothing but embarrassment and hurt" as he dismissed claims made by two financial institutions that asserted a judgment he made should be set aside due to "apparent bias".
Both Justice Stanley John and Justice Christopher Blackman were hit with claims of possible bias by appellants Belgravia International Bank & Trust Company Limited and Experta Trust Company (Bahamas) Limited and calls for a February 2014 judgment in favor of CIBC Trust Company (Bahamas) to be set aside as a result in an appeal heard by the court.
On John's part, the claim stemmed from the fact that John's daughter, Amanda, was employed by Lennox Paton, the firm representing CIBC Trust Company (Bahamas). On Blackman's part, the appellants had claimed that a position he had held as a non-executive director of CIBC West Indies Holdings Limited, a corporate affiliate of CIBC between 1993-1994 and in 2001, and the employment of his son and sister with CIBC companies in Barbados, should have been disclosed by the judge due to the possibility of a resulting bias towards CIBC.
Pushpinder Saini, Q.C., appearing for the appellants, urged that there was a "duty of disclosure" on the part of Blackman and John at the
outset of the appeal in February 2013.
Addressing the claims, Blackman said the appellants did not assist in "stating what defining moment or event occurred" that would have prompted the judge to disclose a likelihood of bias.
"While extensive powers are vested in judicial officers, I don't think that the power of divination is one of them. So the question for the informed, reasonable and right minded person...(is) what would the fair minded and informed observer consider should have prompted John JA or myself in February 2013 to declare a relationship with Lennox Paton or CIBC?"
With respect to the allegation against John specifically, Blackman said he is of the view that "an informed, reasonable and right minded person, viewing the matter realistically and practically" could not have thought the decision by Lennox Paton to hire Amanda John in late 2013 could have been a factor for consideration in May 2013 when the hearing of the appeals concluded.
"In relation to myself, in the circumstance that I ceased to be a non-executive Director of CIBC related companies in 2001, the time that has elapsed is critical to the conclusion that it was more likely than not that an informed, reasonable and rightminded person....would conclude that it was more likely than not that bias or its apprehension (was) improbable.
"I am of the further view that such a person would reach the same conclusion in regard to my son and my sister's employment with the CIBC companies in Barbados, where there has been no relationship with CIBC Trust Company (Bahamas) Limited," he added.
"In the circumstances...I conclude that no reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of John or myself is established. Consequently there is no reason to vacate the judgment of the court dated February 26, 2014..." said Blackman.
Blackman also noted that each judge prepares and expresses their opinion independently, rather than having one member of the court "brief" the rest.
"(This) demonstrates that the independence and integrity of each member of this court is jealously guarded and respected both individually and collectively," said Blackman.
John said that while his 30 year old daughter, Amanda, had lived with him in The Bahamas he "had no personal input into her selection for pupilage with Lennox Paton" and he has not made "any contribution towards the facilitating of a work permit for her in The Bahamas."
"Further I say that I have not had, nor do I now have, any personal relationship with any member of the law firm of Lennox Paton or any other law firm in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas," said John.
Calling the allegations of bias "spurious", John said that they have "caused (him) nothing but embarrassment and hurt, particularly as the judgment sought to be impugned in these application was heard and determined before my daughter's engagement with Lennox Paton."
Also hearing the appeal, Justice Conteh agreed with Blackman's position, asserting that there was "not a scintilla of truth" in the allegations against the two other judges.
The judgment noted that while it is important that justice must be seen to be done, it is "equally" as important that judicial officers discouraging forum shopping.
This can be achieved by not, "acceding too readily to suggestions of bias, encourag(ing) parties to believe that by seeking the disqualifications of a judge, they will have their case tried by someone thought to be more liekly to decide the case in their favor."
The stay granted against the execution of the earlier Court of Appeal judgment on July 17, 2014, was discharged.
The underlying legal battle stemmed from a June 1996 agreement between CIBC and Belgravia, in which the two banks had agreed to act as co-trustees of a family trust. CIBC was ultimately replaced by Experta in July 2005, and Belgravia initiated legal action against CIBC for alleged breach of trust and the return of trust assets/monies still in its control.

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News Article
Court transcripts highlighted among Swift Justice failings
Court transcripts highlighted among Swift Justice failings

INTERNATIONAL Development Bank consultants have compiled a scathing review of the government's highly touted Swift Justice Initiative (SJI), at the heart of their study the court reporting and transcription system...

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News Article
Martin Apeals Court Decision on Union Election

President of the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) Nicole Martin yesterday appealed a Supreme Court ruling that ordered the union's Executive Council to hold an election on or before February 28, despite previously stating she would not appeal.

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News Article
Court closed for BTC sale hearing

Preliminary issues were raised in the Supreme Court yesterday as a hearing over a bid to block the sale of 51 per cent of BTC to Cable and Wireless was due to open.

The hearing took placed in closed court before Justice Neville Adderley. Last month, unions representing BTC workers filed a writ in an attempt to block the sale of BTC.

The unions, the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU) and the Bahamas Public Managers Union (BCPMU), filed a joint action in the Supreme Court raising a number of issues, among them questioning the right of

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300 Jansel Court, Freeport
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  • Bedrooms : 2
  • Bathrooms : 2.00
  • Living Area : 900 sqft
  • Lot Area : 1000 sqft

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News Article
The Privy Council debate

The debate over the Privy Council and whether The Bahamas should retain it as its final court of appeal was thrust back into the spotlight last week, when Law Lords in London ruled that Maxo Tido, convicted of the brutal murder of a teenage girl, should not have been sentenced to death for his crime.
In its ruling handed down on June 15, the Privy Council said that the crime did not warrant execution.  "This was, in short, an appalling murder but not one which warrants the most condign punishment of death," wrote the Law Lords.
The case has now been sent back to the Court of Appeal for the imposition of  "the appropriate sentence".
Execution remains the most severe punishment prescribed by the state for the crime of murder.
And it is frustrating to many that it is virtually impossible to carry out that punishment due to the appeals process, which normally takes years to complete.
Despite the regularity of the issuance of the death sentence, executions are uncommon. There has not been a hanging in The Bahamas since David Mitchell was executed on January 6, 2000.
In the 1993 Pratt and Morgan ruling, Her Majesty's Privy Council ruled that it would be cruel and inhumane to execute a murder convict more than five years after the death sentence was issued.
This ruling slowed the execution process.  Murder trials take a long time to come up in this country and the appeals process after the death sentence is issued also takes years.
The country hanged 50 men since 1929, according to records kept at Her Majesty's Prison.  Five of them were hanged under the first two Ingraham administrations (1992-2002); 13 were hanged under the 25-year rule of the Pindling government (1967-1992); and the remainder were executed between 1929 and 1967.
In 2006, the Privy Council also issued a ruling stating that the section of the Penal Code requiring a sentence of death be passed on any defendant convicted of murder "should be construed as imposing a discretionary and not a mandatory sentence of death."
The government has acknowledged that hangings are unlikely considering the five-year rule and the amount of time it takes for the appeals process to take place.  However, despite this acknowledgment, capital punishment remains a legal punishment.
This commentary is not intended to offer an opinion on whether or not capital punishment is a fair or reasonable punishment.  There are good arguments for and against hangings.
What is clear is that it is virtually impossible for the death sentence to be carried out.  And appeals against the sentence add to the backlog of cases before various courts.  The appeals waste time and money.
Anecdotally, the majority of Bahamians appear in favor of executions.
But what is the point of having the death penalty on the books if it is virtually impossible to carry out?  Either we end the death penalty or divorce ourselves from the Privy Council.
As we all consider ways to reduce the number of matters before the court in order to make the criminal justice system more efficient, we must put this issue up for debate.  Emotionalism is useless.  The facts are the facts.  Hangings, though desired, are unlikely.
We must now at least start the discussion of the post-hanging period in The Bahamas.
If we are to retain our relationship with the Privy Council -- and there are a number of sound reasons why we should -- new laws are needed, creating categories of murder.  A proper definition of life in prison must also be brought forward along with a proper system of parole.
These are the issues that need to be debated when it comes to dealing with those who murder.
Either we accept the reality that our relationship with the Privy Council amounts to an end to the death penalty, or we seriously consider what it would mean to end our relationship with the Privy Council.

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News Article
Constitutional Reform, Pt. 5
Constitutional Reform, Pt. 5

For the average person in The Bahamas, the most important part of the constitution is chapter III, which deals with the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of "every person in The Bahamas".

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