Continuing Legal Professional Development to become mandatory in Caribbean
BASSETERRE, St Kitts — The regional justice sector reform project hosted a region-wide sensitisation programme on Continuing Legal Professional Development (CLPD) here a week ago to raise awareness among the members of the St Kitts and Nevis Bar Association about CLPD and the move towards making it mandatory in Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries.
The project — Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) — is a five-year programme funded by the Government of Canada. It is being implemented from within the Caribbean Law Institute Centre, Faculty of Law, The University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus in Barbados.
Professor Velma Newton, Regional Project Director, IMPACT Justice noted that professional development is an important continuous improvement process.
“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,” she said. “The importance of CLPD is to keep legal professionals in the region, updated with relevant training, information, knowledge and skills to remain competent throughout their careers.”
Currently, Jamaica and Grenada are the only Caricom member states to have legislation which deals specifically with continuing legal education.
Professor Newton shared that the IMPACT Justice Project held a meeting on legal professionalism in Jamaica earlier this year, at which the current Bar Association presidents from around the region pledged their support for CLPD for lawyers.
“IMPACT Justice received the full support and commitment of the bar associations around the region for the move towards implementing mandatory CLPD. Jamaica is the foremost with respect to Continuing Legal Education in the region and this is the model with which we agreed to move forward,” she disclosed.
The featured speaker for the awareness building session, Michael Hylton, QC, chairman of the General Legal Council in Jamaica, shared the Jamaican perspective in his presentation entitled Continuing Legal Professional Development: The Jamaica Model with the 30 members of the Federation’s legal community registered for the meeting at the Ocean Terrace Inn.
He highlighted aspects of the CLPD agenda in Jamaica including its organisation, the courses offered and the accreditation process. In addition, he shared his vision for a regional programme which would see the same courses being offered across the Caricom region with one accreditation system.
The IMPACT Justice Project is designed to address deficiencies in the justice sector in Caricom, outside of those that are directly related to the judiciary and the courts. It has as its ultimate outcome: enhanced access to justice benefiting men, women, youth and businesses in 13 Caricom member states. These are: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.