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Retirement of an icon

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Justice Sir Brian George Keith Alleyne, acting Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, goes on retirement in April this year, and all over the OECS tributes are pouring in as is fitting for this great icon. Monday, 11th February, 2008, was our turn to honour the acting Chief Justice who worked here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines as High Court Judge immediately before he was appointed Justice of Appeal.{{more}} I had the honour of working as Registrar of the High Court while this great man worked as High Court Judge, and I feel that I was fortunate to have served with someone of the stature of Sir Brian Alleyne.

Sir Brian Alleyne was born in Dominica, but he could be regarded as a true OECS man as he lived and worked in Dominica, Grenada, and St Lucia, and as itinerant Justice of the Appeal Court, he traveled to the various islands in the OECS to hear appeals. He left Dominica with his parents at the tender age of two years to live in St. Vincent and the Grenadines when his father was assigned here. A picture of his father presently hangs on the wall of the House of Assembly in Kingstown. His father was renowned Queen’s Counsel, Attorney General of the Windward Islands and acting Judge of the Windward and Leeward Islands High Court. He has been responsible single handedly for the production of the Grey Book, statutes which preceded the present Blue Book Volumes in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Sir Brian Alleyne told the gathering at the special sitting held in his honour of the task that he was given by his father to proof read the draft. He also fondly recalled that the Grey Book Volumes financed his education.

Sir Brian Alleyne received his legal Education at the Gibson and Weldon School of Law in England and was a member of Lincoln’s Inns where he was called to the Bar in November 1966. He was admitted to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Dominica in January 1967 and started his career as a lawyer in private practice. From 1979 he served in the Eugenia Charles’ Government in various positions, including that of Attorney General, Minister of External Affairs, among others. He acted in the post of Prime Minister on various occasions. After he left public service he became High Court Judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, and it is here that many of us in St. Vincent and the Grenadines came to know him and the stalwart contribution that he made to the Judiciary.

Justice Alleyne was elevated to the position of Justice of the Appeal and reached the highest position in the judiciary, albeit in an acting capacity. This did not in any way deter him from making a worthy contribution and from approaching his duties with the dignity and honour befitting the position. He embraced the reforming zeal of former Chief Justice Sir Dennis Byron and never in any way faltered in his duties. He recognized the importance of milestones and he made sure that the fortieth anniversary of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court did not go unnoticed, and it is through his urgings that Dr Francis Alexis recorded the history in a book called The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court – Model Regional Court.

Justice Alleyne is a humble man who never lost the simple touch. Many have basked in his ready smile and genuine personality. After a strenuous sitting in court, Justice Alleyne would take a walk on the street of Kingstown to mingle with the populace, unaccompanied by a police guard. Justice Alleyne stands tall for his wisdom, integrity and competency. We congratulate him and his Vincentian wife and wish him all the best for the future.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com

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