Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Judicial Independence After Schofield

On the 30th March 2010 the Minister for Justice, the Hon Daniel Feetham, gave GBC an interview that was transmitted on Newswatch.  One would have thought that following the protracted and expensive proceedings to remove Schofield as Chief Justice of Gibraltar, a Minister of the incumbent GSD Government would take great care not to be imprudent in comments made about the present members of the senior judiciary.

Not so, instead during this interview, Mr Feetham chose to praise both the Hon Mr Justice Dudley CJ and the Hon Ms Justice Prescott PJ.  This imprudent praise may be capable of some forgiveness but the context in which that praise was made becomes more difficult to forgive or at least understand.  Mr Feetham praised them both for the assistance apparently given by them to the GSD Government in the field of law reform.

Once again the clear lines that should be drawn between each arm of government, namely the legislature, executive and judiciary (most importantly between the judiciary and the other two arms, which in any event in Gibraltar are synonymous with each other) is being blurred.  Not only does the GSD Government drag the judiciary into matters that are more properly decided by them, i.e. the issue of the age of consent for sexual relations,  but a Minister considers it appropriate to laud judges in legislative matters.

Is the independence of the judiciary under threat?


  1. Indepedence, what is that? In Gibraltar there is no such thing; not for the judiciary; not for the civil service; not for the Chamber of Commerce; not for the police; and deffinately not for the electorate.

  2. Brown Cow says

    Write something on the airport

  3. There is something on the airport in "When Politics and Business do not Mix" published here on the 2nd April 2010 well before any comment from the GSLP/Liberals or the PDP. Perhaps they were on their Easter braek!!

    More to come ...

  4. It seems to me that there will never be political, judicial or social or impartiality in Gibraltar. The societal connections between the individuals who make up these systems precludes it. I for one, was not in favour of a Gibraltarian Chief Justice.

    Then again, I am an outsider and I can see the way the chips are stacked here.

  5. Fred says:

    Anonymous Outsider, you are not the only one who can see how the cards ares are stacked. Many a native born llanito has had to pack his bags to make their ownluck away from Gib.

    However, I do not think that the cheif justice will be an unfair one. And, as a Llanito, I prefer to take the risk in the hope that we start grwoing into our responsibilities and improve the nature of governance in Gibraltar.

  6. I agree with the previous contributor.
    We are now stuck with the new Chief Justice and the new
    Her Ladyship of Sotogrande (and close friend of Caruana)
    for far many years to come.
    I agree that we should employ Gibraltarians where possible
    But I think this is a step to far.
    We will just become stale if we don't bring in experienced
    people to learn from.

  7. I regret your very limited experience of Gibraltarians. There are many independently minded and independent operators in the Rock who are miles above "fish and chips".

    This blog might be the begining of a new and refreshing reality for you [MARCUS].

  8. Fred:

    Anonymous, isn't Marcus in Eire tomandose un par de Guinness a costa del taxpayer? O ya acabo la conferencia?

    Anyway, los expats que se dejen de cuento que todo reportan al First Sec en el Convento, y el seguro que como minimo reporta a dos departamentos en Londres. So they can spare us the talk about "how the cards are stacked". Cada uno a su club. Reform Club in Pall Mall anyone? They have a lovely house Claret at the moment.

    Gibcrier, is Her Ladyship of Sotogrande the new puny-judge? I was not aware that she was friends with our Lord in No6.

  9. Gibcrier, it is unclear whether you are agreeing with Anonymous @ 15 April 2010 15:09 or Fred @ 15 April 2010 19:27 and with what exactly in either.

    If it is the former, I suggest you exercise a little retraint in your criticisms and give the judges an opportunity of gaining the confidence of all; that, they are obliged to do by one route only, demonstrating their independence and impartiality competently and transparently for all of Gibraltar to see irrespective of who appears in their courts.

  10. I only drink tea de Gibralta please y not jia 4 de beer [MARCUS]!

  11. The issue of judges is not one of where they are from. It is one of what they each individually bring to the office.

    The recent appointees should not be criticised at all for just being Gibraltarian. If any criticism is to be levelled of them it must be objective and supported by evidence of acts done by them.

    To date the holders of the office have been doing what is required of them. All that anyone can ask of them is for patience, to be given a fair and uninterrupted hearing and for justice to be done as far as is humanly possible.

    I do not see any valid reason to criticse at this stage. The criticism in this blog was not aimed at the judges but rather at what Mr Feetham had to say. It is for Mr Feetham as Minister for Justice to desist from conveying a hidden message and impression to the public that his praise/criticism of judges carries any weight.

  12. I agree with MARCUS and LLANITO WORLD. Simple but not stupid!

  13. A Government Minister thanks two judges for the help they have provided in the area of law reform and suddenly the judicial system and its independence are under threat! This is a nonsense. Do a cursory search on the internet and you will see many examples of judges being praised by politicians for their work on committees including law reform. You can do better than this Robert!

  14. To the last Anonymous:

    Hi Danny, may I suggest you read the blog more closely ... you can understand it better like that! It is not the praise that is criticised it it is the reason for the praise that needs thought.