29 November, 2009


Why is it not appropriate for the Commissioner of Police of Anguilla on his retirement to be appointed Magistrate of Anguilla?  It is unfortunate that I have to ask this question.  The answer should be obvious to all.  The answer is that such an appointment will tend to undermine public confidence in the administration of justice, and to bring the judiciary into contempt.  Just in case there is one single person out there who does not  see the point immediately, let me try my best to explain why this is so.
First of all, every police case brought in the Magistrate’s Court is brought in the name of the Commissioner of Police.  The Magistrate’s Court deals with 95% of the criminal cases brought to court in any country.  The trial of crime in Anguilla is for all practical purposes synonymous with the Magistrate’s Court.  If I get a summons, it will be titled “Commissioner of Police versus Don Mitchell”.  Then, every single investigation of a crime is conducted under the direction of the Commissioner of Police.  He is the head of the police force. 
In addition to the obvious conflicts of interest and questions of bias raised, there is the fundamental question of the separation of powers.  At least since the time of the Duc de Montesquieu, the principle of separation of powers has been an intrinsic foundation of the rule of law.  Ask any first year law student.
The consequence is that for a person who served as the senior executive officer of the police force to move directly into the position of Magistrate of Anguilla, without even a cooling off period of several years, is to induce such mistrust and misgivings in society as will tend to undermine the administration of justice in this country. 
What am I going to think about the sort of justice I am going to get if, when I respond to the summons, and turn up in court on Monday morning, and the man, who just a few scant months ago was the chief investigator into the charges brought against, me is sitting there with a smile on his face asking me how do I plead to the charge?  To say that I would feel outrage is the least of it.
            Then, there is the question of qualification.  It is not written in a law anywhere that I recall, but, a stipendiary Magistrate in the Leeward Islands, ie, one who is a qualified lawyer and who is paid a salary, has not since at least the 1890s been considered to be properly qualified unless he or she is a licensed barrister or attorney at law who has practised at the Bar for a minimum period of 5 years prior to the appointment.  The reason for this rule is well known to all legal practitioners.  Only a practicing attorney will be attuned to the finer points of the rules of evidence and of law.  When the Commissioner of Anguilla cabled me in 1976 in St Kitts and invited me to come to Anguilla to be the Magistrate, his cable said in part, “We understand you have been a practicing barrister for the past five years . . .”  By that, he meant that in his opinion I had the minimum qualification.
            This is particularly important when you are aware of the legal history of Anguilla.  Some 30 years and more ago, in the year 1978 to be exact, Anguilla had not yet re-joined the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.  We were finding it difficult to get a judge to conduct the Criminal Assizes in Anguilla.  The Anguilla House of Assembly, in an attempt to speed up justice and to reduce the backlog of indictable cases, enacted a law making almost every felony and misdemeanour, excepting only murder, manslaughter and rape, triable by the Magistrate.  The Magistrate of Anguilla undoubtedly has the widest jurisdiction of any Magistrate anywhere in the West Indies.  It is a grave responsibility to be the Magistrate of Anguilla.  Only an attorney, not only well-learned in the principles of law, but also well-schooled in the practice of law, will be considered by the Bar to be capable of dispensing justice in such a court to the people of Anguilla.  Academic qualification alone is not sufficient.
In the case of our Commissioner, it is true that he went to law school.  It is true that he received both a bachelor of laws and a legal education certificate.  He is academically qualified to be a Magistrate.  But, this occurred some 10 to 15 years ago.  Since then, he has functioned solely as an officer within the police force.  He may have appeared as a prosecutor once or twice in the early days, but not in the past 10 years to my knowledge.  As such, in my opinion, he is completely unqualified for the job.
There is nothing wrong with a police officer rising to fill the post of Magistrate.  Many of us older heads know the story of John Lynch-Wade.  He served for nearly 30 years as Chief of Police of St Kitts.  He was the Chief of Police in Basseterre at the time of the Anguilla Revolution of 1967, and was alive and well when I last greeted him not a year ago.  When ‘Chiefie Wade’ retired, he went to UWI in Barbados and studied law.  On receiving his LlB, he went on to law school in Trinidad and obtained his legal education certificate.  He returned to St Kitts where he practised law for several years.  He was then placed on contract to be a Magistrate.  He functioned so well, that he rose to be the most senior Magistrate in St Kitts.  He filled that post for many years, until, a few years ago, he retired much loved and appreciated.  But, you see the difference, I hope.
            It is not as if this is the first time we have raised this issue in Anguilla.  I can well remember when a young Crown Counsel returned from Law School to Anguilla about 15 years ago.  Some Attorney-General made the idiotic recommendation to have him appointed as the Magistrate of Anguilla shortly after he returned from completing his education.  The Bar Association went on strike, and caused an uproar.  The Magistrate in question was told in no uncertain terms that no barrister would permit his or her client to appear before him, as he was not qualified to dispense justice in a court of law.  He quietly allowed himself to be transferred to Administration, from which he has now risen to be the Deputy Governor of Anguilla
            And now, he is on the verge, the cusp, of making the same mistake all over again.

28 November, 2009


New opportunity for Access Tsarina opens up.  Winair announced yesterday that it is ceasing its daily flights between St Maarten and Anguilla effective 1 December.  December is the peak of the tourism season for Anguilla.  What does this tell us about Winair's views on our tourism prospects?  The industry is very important to us.  Now that marijuana exports are banned, we have very few other crops to reap besides tourists.  

Have you studied the American Eagle recently reorganized service between Puerto Rico and Anguilla?  The flight arrives in Anguilla in the mid-afternoon, meaning that only travelers from the Eastern Seaboard of the United States are able to use it to access Anguilla in one day.  Visitors from Canada, the Mid-west, and the Pacific coast require an overnight stop in Miami or San Juan to be able to get to Anguilla, if they use San Juan.  For those of us in Anguilla who were previously accustomed to make a medical appointment with our doctor in San Juan, go up in the early morning, and then return to Anguilla in the late evening, the present service is a disaster.  We cannot accomplish anything in one day.  We must go to San Juan the day before our appointment, then overnight again to be able to catch the flight the following afternoon.  The service stinks.  The cost for a return ticket on the Eagle to San Juan is over US$300.00, plus at least US$200 for the hotel room, while the return ticket from New York to St Maarten costs less than US$400.00.
Anyone who over the last year has accessed Anguilla via San Juan on American Airlines or via St Maarten on Winair had to have been very badly advised.  I am sure that very little business will be lost to Anguilla if they are both discontinued.  No properly advised international traveler should do otherwise than go directly to St Maarten, then catch either a ferry or one of the small, easily arranged non-scheduled airlines that do the 6 minute flight to Anguilla.
Of the scheduled airlines, only LIAT, God help us, provides a decent air service into or out of Anguilla to anywhere else.  I doubt that many persons will be inconvenienced by the loss of the Winair connection.  What Winair did not mention in its end of service notice was that this flight to St Maarten was probably one of the most expensive flights anywhere in the world, mile for mile. 
Does anybody know how many of our hard-earned dollars went to support the last venture between Puerto Rico and Anguilla?  Will the figures of public funds expended on this project ever come out?  Does the previously announced financial commitment by the government to subsidizing that service continue even now in times of hardship?
Given our government’s penchant for supporting over-the-top, hare-brained enterprises promoted by party supporters and hangers-on, one can only imagine what opportunities our Access Tsarina and her cronies are looking at for the future expenditure of public funds.

27 November, 2009


How do I object to a fraudulent voter in my constituency?  Now that we have continuous registration of voters in Anguilla, there is a heavy burden placed on the Electoral Registration Officer, Priscilla Gumbs, to make sure that, after 1 January 2009, she checks each new voter’s application for registration.  Her questioning of applicants to be registered during 2009 is now the first line of defence against voter registration fraud in the process of continual registration.  The applicant is required to attend personally before her, and to make himself available to be questioned, and made to produce evidence of residence and other qualifications. 
It is not every Anguillian who is entitled to vote in Anguilla.  We have to be qualified Anguillians or belongers, and we must not be subject to one of the statutory disqualifications.  So, for example, any Anguillian, who has been certified as insane, or convicted of an elections offence, is disqualified from voting. 
            The second line of defence against fraudulent registration of voters is the 'objection'.  This is provided for by the Election Registration Regulations.  I understand there have been objections in the past, and some appeals have even gone up to the Magistrate's Court.  That is as it should be.
By Regulation 36, any voter in the Electoral District in question may object to the registration of any person whose name is included in the published list of claimants.  Thus, no voter from outside District 5 can object to any person who is registered as a voter in District 5.  The objection is made by filing the appropriate form of ‘notice of objection’ which is obtained from the Electoral Registration Office.  Such notice is to be delivered not later than 15 days after the first day of publishing the quarterly list of voters.  For this quarter, that date was 26 November 2009. 
I trust that every candidate is paying attention.

25 November, 2009

I love it

I am sorry if this blog seems to have gone quiet.  I have not thought it through.  There could be two reasons.  One, there is absolutely nothing I am upset about right now.  Two, there are so many people now publishing controversial views on political and social issues that the original motivation for this blog has been subsumed.  I suppose there is a third.  I am completely written out, so that even if I was mad at some incident, like learning that Keithley has had the lack of good sense to apply for the vacant post of Magistrate, I would not have the words to write about it.  For the past couple of weeks, I have been kept busy revising law lectures, writing magazine articles, and researching and writing scripts for the upcoming TV programmes on “The Law and You” on channel 3 TV.  Six scripts written so far, all on elections law.  So, you may need to look elsewhere for up-to-date comments on wrong-doing in Anguilla until I can find more time.
Have you become friends yet with Anguillian Transparency?  If not I highly recommend it.  There is some good writing there. 
The most exciting forum right now is probably AXA Politics.  On that site you can always find passionate writing about Anguilla’s future, and the upcoming general elections. 
The public political meetings that are going on nearly every day in one part of the island or another, sometimes as many as three different ones each night, are the only live theatre in Anguilla.  Not everybody wants to be seen in public at one or the other of these political meetings.  Not to worry, they are all broadcast live on radio, with live streaming so that Anguillians in the USA or the UK can keep up-to-date.
The radio talk-shows are obligatory listening for those concerned about Anguilla.  They are all accessible over the internet.  The ones I know about are:
1. On Kool FM:  Yanchie Richardson’s The Mayor’s Show on Saturday mornings, Elkin Richardson’s To the Point on Monday evenings, and John Benjamin’s classic Talk your Mind on Wednesdays evenings.
2. On Klass FM:  Haydn Hughes’ call in show on Thursday evenings.
3. On Radio Anguilla:  Pastor Phillip Gumbs’ Social Solutions on Saturday mornings.
            Faced with all that commendable competition, it seems almost pointless for me to add my two cents worth.
I am making enquiries about Keithley’s alleged application to join the Magistracy straight from his seat behind the Commissioner of Police’s desk.  I am still waiting for a response from the Hon Deputy Governor.  One way or the other I shall let you know what I find out.

18 November, 2009


“I am an Anguillian.  General elections are around the corner.  I am not on the Voters’ List.  How do I get registered to be able to vote?”  I am sorry, the answer is that it is now too late.  The final preliminary list of voters before the next general elections is being prepared right now.  No more names can be added to it. 
Section 14 of the Elections Act provides that, not later than the 72nd day of every quarter, the Electoral Registration Officer shall prepare and publish a Preliminary List of voters for every Electoral District.  The 72 day of this fourth quarter in 2009 will be 11 December 2009These Preliminary Lists for each Electoral District constitute the register of voters.  So, if the Chief Minister calls elections in February 2010, the register of voters will be the list prepared in the quarter October–December 2009 and duly published.  Persons who may have applied to be added in December 2009 or in January and February 2010 will not be eligible to vote. 
            Regulation 27 provides that after the enumeration year 2008 ended, a person who was qualified to be on the list but who was not registered for the particular Electoral District, might have appeared in person at the Central Electoral Office and submitted an application in Form 9 to be registered.  Similar applications could have been made to correct errors in the list.  The Regulation gives the Electoral Registration Officer the power to make inquiries to determine whether the applicant is qualified.  Every political party in Anguilla, knowing that elections were due by March 2010, would have been busy registering supporters all during the year 2009.
            Note that the Regulation requires that the applicant must have appeared in person before the Electoral Registration Officer and submitted their application to be added to the list.  No politician or their campaign assistants was permitted to fill out the forms, have the applicant in St Maarten or St Thomas sign the form, obtain a photocopy of the applicant’s passport, and bring the forms in to the Central Electoral Office and register them.  The person applying to be put on the list of voters had to come in personally, allow the Electoral Registration Officer to ask questions and satisfy herself that the person appearing before her, and signing the form before her, was the same person as the person in the passport.  This procedure of personal appearance is, no doubt, meant to make it difficult, if not impossible, for electoral fraud to occur in this continuous registration procedure.
            When the Electoral Registration Officer was satisfied that the person was qualified to be registered as a voter, she gave the applicant a certificate of provisional registration in Form 12.  The name, address, and occupation of the applicant was then entered on the Quarterly List of Voters for the relevant Electoral District.  From those quarterly lists, the preliminary list is now being prepared.
            Section 16 of the Act is an important section in connection with these time-lines.  The section provides a procedure to be followed, if time for anything needs to be extended, or if there was any error or irregularity in matter of form that needs to be validated.  The Governor in Council is empowered to make a Regulation extending the time or validating the irregularity.  However, the Regulation does not take effect until it is approved by a resolution of the House of Assembly.

15 November, 2009


Probates.  Last Tuesday, the Anguilla Legal Aid Clinic had the privilege of having two experienced lawyers speak about problems that arise in Anguilla over the administration of estates.   One of them was Ms Jean Dyer.  She spoke from the point of view of a private legal practitioner.  She explained that attorneys can assist families in two ways.  Where the estate is small and simple, it may be necessary to seek legal assistance only with preparing the forms leading up to the application to the court for a Grant of Probate or of Letters of Administration.  Where the estate is more complicated, it might be advisable to seek advice on the administration of the estate. 
Ms Dyer explained the process and typical problems that arise both with Letters of Administration and with Probates.  She spoke about the particular issue of family land, where the deceased died before 11 December 1945, without a Will.  Administrators who are not properly legally advised may believe that they can simply divide the land up among the children in equal shares.  That may be true for estates that arose after December 1945.  But, it is not true for estates that arose prior to that date.  Depending on the date of the death of the deceased, there will be different persons who became the heirs of the deceased. 
Ms Dyer explained that the Personal Representative who is not legally represented risks dividing up the estate in a way that is not according to law.  Problems arise when the Personal Representative does not account to the heirs.  Sometimes, Personal Representatives pay themselves out of the estate for their work.  Sometimes, they administer the estate in secret, without sharing information with the heirs.  They do not always understand the importance of putting family arrangements in writing.  That is where the assistance of an attorney can be invaluable.  There is some cost up front, but it saves the estate and the Administrator from major expenses later on.
The forum, which ended at 9:00pm, was part of an ongoing series of Tuesday evening public forums being held throughout the month of November in commemoration of the third anniversary of the Anguilla Legal Aid Clinic. 
The topic for discussion next Tuesday 17 November is Proposals to Reform Family Law in Anguilla.  The presenters will be Ms Kiesha Gumbs, Social Development Planner, and Ms Navine Kissob, attorney at law.  All interested members of the public are invited to attend and to participate.
The Anguilla Legal Aid Clinic is a free service provided by the Department of Social Administration.  The clinic is held on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  Interested persons may telephone 497 2317 to make an appointment.

14 November, 2009


Probate and Administration Issues in AnguillaThe Anguilla Legal Aid Clinic held another public forum last Tuesday evening at the Teachers' Resource Centre at 7:30 in the evening on the topic.  The presenters were Ms Patricia Harding, Registrar of the Supreme Court, and Ms Jean Dyer, Attorney at law in the Chambers of Keithley Lake and Associates.

Ms Harding spoke on the topic from the point of view of the Registry of the Supreme Court.  She explained that the court office tries to get out Grants of Letters of Administration and Grants of Probate within three months of the filing of the application.  Letters of Administration are appropriate where the deceased died without a Last Will, while Grants of Probate are made where there was a Will.  Delays are caused when there are inconsistencies in the names of the heirs and other parties.  Problems also arise where the estates are very old.  There may be no trace of a birth or a death certificate in Anguilla.  Documents may be submitted in a foreign language, or they may be photocopies instead of the required certified true copies.  The Registry must work hard to ensure that the Grant is made in favour of the right person. 
She stated that she has found problems arising when the Administrator gives away land to persons who are not legally entitled.  She regretted that there is no tradition in Anguilla of Administrators putting notices in the newspapers, as is done elsewhere, inviting persons who have a claim on the estate to contact him or her.  Administrators of intestate estates sometimes do not seem to understand that they are trustees who are accountable to the court.  The result is that more and more Administrators are ending up before the court. 

13 November, 2009


I get really angry when I read an uninformed tourism promotion article about Anguilla.  If you are a real Anguillian, visit this stupid article.  In the breathless prose we expect from tourism industry advertising hacks, we are invited to “succumb to this island’s charms.”  There follows all the usual rubbish about “crystal clear turquoise waters”. 
Perhaps the most annoying part of the article is the nonsense about The People.  Apparently, our island policies have resulted in a prosperous population in Anguilla with a good education system and a proud heritage.  Yuck! Yuck!  For those of us on the front line, the one thing you notice in our schools is how totally uneducated our school population is.  There is no good education system “with a proud heritage” in Anguilla.  Our graduating children can hardly read or write.  That is a fact.  As for the prosperous population, I have a few unemployed friends I would like to introduce you to.
The author blithely reports that there is only one criminal in Anguilla, and he has been caught.  She writes that the last crime wave in Anguilla involved one young person who was responsible for a few break-ins and minor thefts that were a challenge to the island’s reputation.  His arrest, and the community’s disapproval, served as a lesson to anyone with similar intent.  Please, I want to puke!  Who fed this author on free meals and drinks?
This would be embarrassing if it was written by a blogger. But it was published by Macleans.  This is the Time Magazine of Canada.  It is embarrassing and unprofessional, and the author does not spel so good either!
The only thing that makes sense in the article is the advice that “if you don’t arrive on your own yacht or your own jet, you’ll have to travel via St Maarten”.  I can only conclude that Donna must be doing a great job of promoting our subsidized, very expensive, alternative transportation to Anguilla.
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12 November, 2009


No Anguillian, or belonger of Anguilla, is qualified to be put on the voters' list unless he or she is resident in Anguilla.  Just because I am an Anguillian, or a belonger of Anguilla, does not qualify me to be placed on the voters' list.  I must also be a resident of Anguilla
            Residence is not easy or automatic.  Until I looked up the law, even I was mistaken in my assumptions about what constitutes residence for the purpose of registration on the list of voters. 
There are three pieces of law that mention the residence qualification, (i) The Constitution, (ii) The Elections Act; and (iii) The Elections Regulations.  The first and most important is the Constitution. 
            Section 43 of the 1982 Anguilla Constitution sets out the residence qualification in these words:
Qualification of voters
43. (1) Subject to the next following subsection a person shall be qualified to be registered as a voter in an electoral district if he is of the age of eighteen years and upwards and—
(a) is a British Dependent Territories citizen born in Anguilla, and is domiciled there at the qualifying date; or
(b)        (i) is a person who belongs to Anguilla who has resided in Anguilla for a period of not less than twelve months immediately before the qualifying date, and is domiciled there at that date, and is the lawful spouse, widow or widower, or the son or daughter or the spouse of such son or daughter of a person who was born in Anguilla; or
            (ii) is a person who belongs to Anguilla who is domiciled in Anguilla and has resided there for a period of at least five years immediately before the qualifying date; and
(c) is at the qualifying date resident in the electoral district in which he claims to be registered.
            According to section 43, the first group of qualified voters are those who are (i) a British Dependent Territories Citizens, (ii) born in Anguilla, (iii) domiciled there at the qualifying date; and (iv) resident in the electoral district in which they claim to be registered at the qualifying date.  There is no minimum time that a born Anguillian must have resided in Anguilla before the qualifying date.  But, as we shall see, there is a minimum time for belongers.
            The second group of voters consists of persons who are (i) the foreign-born spouses or children of born Anguillians; who on the qualifying date (ii) have become belongers; and (iii) have resided in Anguilla for a period of not less than 12 months before the qualifying date; and (iv) are resident in the electoral district in which they claim to be registered.  So, the US or Canadian or Dominican spouse or child of a born Anguillian, who has his or her belonger certificate, and has had a home in Anguilla for at least one year before the qualifying date, is entitled to be registered and to vote. 
            The third group of qualified voters consists of persons who on the qualifying date (i) are belongers of Anguilla; and (ii) have resided in Anguilla for at least 5 years; and (iii) are resident in the electoral districts in which they claim to be registered.  So, the US or Canadian or Dominican citizen who has no blood connection with Anguilla, but who has his or her belonger certificate, and has had a home in Anguilla for at least 5 years before the qualifying date, is entitled to be registered and to vote. 
            We can say that there are three categories of persons in Anguilla who are qualified to be registered to vote.  They are (i) born Anguillians; (ii) the foreign-born spouses and children of born Anguillians who have resided in Anguilla for not less than 12 months; and (iii) belongers who have resided in Anguilla for not less than 5 years.
            For all practical purposes, the only common qualification for all three categories of Anguillian voters is that they must be 18 years of age or over, and must reside in Anguilla and, in particular, must reside in their electoral district.
            The question of residence is thus of paramount importance.  The problem for the layman is that the words “resident” or “residence” are nowhere defined in the Constitution.  Nor are they defined in any other applicable statute.
            We have to turn to the common law.  And, this is where we all get a wake-up call.  There is a lot of law and learning on what 'residence' means for the purposes of elections.  We have to go back into the old common law of England, before the Representation of the People Act 1948, to learn what 'residence' means at common law.  At common law a person's residence is by implication that person's home, where he or she has a sleeping apartment, or shares one.  Merely sleeping on the premises is not conclusive of residence.  What is required is a considerable degree of permanence.  A guest in someone's home, or a trespasser, or a person unlawfully in occupation like a squatter, is not resident for the purpose of registration as a voter.  There are cases that have decided those points.  The law is that you must be able to prove that the claimed residence is your home.
            A person may, as a question of fact, have only one residence or he or she may have more than one residence.  I may own a home in Island Harbour and another home in North Hill.  If I occasionally stay in one, and occasionally in the other, I am in fact resident in both places.  I may, for example, have my wife and children in one home, and my mistress and her children in another home.  I can choose which of the two I prefer to be registered in for the purpose of elections.  Just owning a house in two constituencies is not sufficient.  If I live in North Hill and own a house in East End in which I never live, and in which I have no intention of ever living, does not qualify my East End house as my residence.  If I have my home in Island Harbour, but I built a house in West End, and I have leased it out, I am resident only in Island Harbour.  I am not resident in West End for the purposes of elections.
            A person may, at common law, be resident at an address even though he is temporarily absent from it.  An Anguillian living and working in the United States, but who maintains a home in Anguilla, and who intends to return to Anguilla to live in it before he dies, is said to be 'constructively' resident in Anguilla.  Such a person is entitled to be on the voters' list and to return to Anguilla to vote when elections are called.  That privilege does not extend to the Anguillian who sold or leased out his home and emigrated to the USA and is living there.  Such an Anguillian is disqualified from registration as a voter in Anguilla.
            The bottom line is that an Anguillian who has resided in New York for years is not automatically entitled to vote in Anguilla.  He has to be able to prove residence in Anguilla according to common law.

11 November, 2009


More on the forum last Tuesday.  Last Tuesday, I took the opportunity to bring up for discussion a common problem attended to at the Anguilla Legal Aid Clinic:  Surveying methods in Anguilla.  I explained that one of the most common complaints in the Legal Aid Clinic had already been mentioned by Dame Bernice.  That was the practice of the Planning Department, with the compliance of the surveyors, to insert provision for a public road into every subdivision.  This was done without informing the landowner of his rights, or the implications of what was being done.  The public road reserve was often inserted into the survey without the road connecting to an existing road at either end.  The road provision was stuck in with no justification or rationale, merely in the hope that one day it might be extended over the adjoining parcels.  No compensation was offered or even discussed.  This amounted to a fraud, in my opinion, on families that were subdividing inherited land.
I told the audience that a second problem that arose in the Anguilla Legal Aid Clinic also involved surveys.  I explained that in most West Indian islands, there were rules that required surveyors to notify neighbours whenever a new boundary was going to be put down.  Surveyors should be required to get the consent of all affected landowners before the Chief Surveyor permitted any survey to be registered.  It appeared that the contrary was done in Anguilla.  Surveyors here are not guided by any written standards.  Here, surveyors are encouraged not to speak to neighbouring landowners, but to present a fait accompli in the hope that any dissatisfaction would be mute and helpless. 
There had also been complaints that the Planning Department sometimes required a road provision to be made alongside a boundary without any discussion with the neighbouring landowner who might have been willing to contribute one half of the road provision.  The result was that persons who were desperate to have their land sub-divided were being compelled to provide a road for all the neighbours without the neighbours contributing.
A lively discussion followed the two presentations.

10 November, 2009


The Legal Aid Clinic is celebrating its third birthday this month.  Part of the celebrations is a series of four forums being held in the Valley on problems that commonly arise in the clinic.  Last Tuesday, attorney at law Dame Dr Bernice V Lake QC, and Legal Aid Clinic legal adviser Don Mitchell CBE QC, made presentations on land issues in Anguilla to a small but appreciative audience.

Dame Bernice explained that the principal problems in the registered land system in Anguilla arise when there is a devolution of title.  There are difficulties when assertions are made as to ownership of rights in people’s lands.  These mainly spring from claims to rights of way.  The principles that govern such claims are rooted in the common law, or customary law, and exist outside of the registered land system.  Too many people believe that because they have been permitted to pass over somebody else’s land for a period, that vests in them a right to claim ownership of a right of way. 

She also commented on the practice in the Planning Department of requiring persons who apply for planning permission to subdivide their land to put in a public road to be owned by government as a condition of the subdivision.  They do this without informing the owner what they are doing, and without any offer of compensation.  Planning has a right to insist on access, but a private right of access is not the same thing as a public road.  The problem that has arisen is that when government finds a track over your land, they now claim an established public road that they can expand into a 32 foot highway without payment of compensation.  It took a case brought by Rev John Gumbs that went all the way to the Privy Council to correct that error. 

She also remarked on the mistaken belief held in some quarters that all Anguillians have a right of access over private land to any beach.  She explained that the public has the right to use the public beach, but if there is no registered right of way over private land to get to the beach, then access must be by boat.  The public beach is that strip of sand between the sea bed and the high water mark, it does not extend any further back into private land.  

07 November, 2009


Wendy Ledger is writes sense.  I don’t know Wendy Ledger.  I gather she is a well respected journalist in the Cayman Islands.  Somebody sent me a very perceptive piece she wrote recently on the website of her Cayman News Service.  She was commenting on a fallacy common among our colonial intellectuals concerning the United Kingdom-Overseas Territory relationship.
The theory is that the UK is somehow ‘out to get us’.  They plan to destroy our financial services and tourism sectors through subterfuge and convoluted plots.  The plan is said to be to take us over Chagos-style, replacing ungrateful brown-skinned natives with thousands of kith and kin, pale-skinned Brits.
Ms Ledger’s contrary view is that all the British Government wants is for the OT’s to be more like Victorian children, seen and not heard.  Essentially, we can do whatever we want, so long as we don’t cause the FCO any trouble.  Their governance of us is marked more by incompetence and indifference than by interest or by concern.  I agree with that view.  It is neither new nor radical.  It is based solidly on the evidence over the centuries.
The FCO could not care less about our islands or our people.  They are not sitting around in an underground bunker plotting the demise of our civilization.  All they want is for us not to bring them any trouble or embarrassment.  They have got a little paranoid about where trouble might come from.  TCI has not helped, nor has the global financial crisis.  These pesky territories could give them a whole lot of trouble economically not only in terms of global reputation.  There is the little matter of international commitments and contingent liability.
I agree with Ms Ledger that there is nothing they would like more than to see the back of every last territory.  The jolly good chaps in Whitehall are outdoing each other to show the natives who’s the boss.  New governors hang up their suits, change into camouflage and sniff around for any potential trouble that may upset the mandarins back at the Old Admiralty Building.  Their instructions are to head off any pending trouble at the pass and get their ‘fine chap’ award before they retire.  A bloody hardship post, what?
Then there are the few colonials who delude themselves into believing in the UK’s ‘motherly’ love for its colonies.  The truth is that we are an embarrassment on the international stage and a reminder of the British Empire’s brutal and cruel past.  Left wing governments in Whitehall in particular find that constant reminder very uncomfortable.  The ‘mother country’ was a myth even in earlier colonial days.
The task of the FCO today both in Anguilla as in the Cayman Islands is to retain enough control to be able to clamp down if we look like we are about to cause any trouble, while giving sufficient of an appearance of autonomy to satisfy the UN.  What they really want for all the OT’s is for each and every one of us to start plotting out our routes to independence.  Either we shut up and behave, or we take down the Union Jack.  The only thing holding them back from delivering the final push over the edge is the US State Department which does not want any more risky States in either its backyard or in its soft underbelly right now, thank you.

06 November, 2009


The email was so realistic, with the cute little logo and all.  It invited me to click on a link to update my information “as part of our continuous effort in protecting your account.  I have seen dozens of these over the past several years.  I can only hope that no customer of National Bank of Anguilla is taken in by the scam.  It helped that the usual mis-typings and mis-spellings expected of these scams were present.  I immediately forwarded a copy of the email to Val, Roy and Ian at NBA suggesting they get an urgent notice to the police and the public using all media.
Dear Valued Customer,
It has come to our attention that your NBA Online profile needs to be updated as part of our continuous effort in protecting your account  and reducing instances of fraud on our website.

This is being done to secure your accounts and to protect your personal informations from being compromised.We at National Bank of Anguilla Online are committed in making sure that your online transactions are secure.

Click on the link below to start the verification process and re-confirm your account

Once your information has been updated and confirmed your online service would continue as usual and would not be interrupted

National Bank of Anguilla
Customer Service

Wikipedia explains that in the field of computer security, phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.  Communications purporting to be from popular social web sites, auction sites, online payment processors or IT administrators are commonly used to lure the unsuspecting public.  Phishing is typically carried out by e-mail or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter details at a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one. Even when using server authentication, it may require tremendous skill to detect that the website is fake.  Phishing is an example of social engineering techniques used to fool users, and exploits the poor usability of current web security technologies.  Attempts to deal with the growing number of reported phishing incidents include legislation, user training, public awareness, and technical security measures.
A phishing technique was described in detail in 1987, and the first recorded use of the term "phishing" was made in 1996. The term is a variant of fishing, probably influenced by phreaking or password harvesting fishing, and alludes to baits used to "catch" financial information and passwords.
The main thing we have all been taught is DON’T CLICK ON THE LINK.  If you check out the ACTUAL address for the link you will find it takes you to a site that looks exactly like NBA but it is actually http://thomaspaulpillow.com/main.html.  Once you sign onto your account, they have your logon info.  If you already signed on, better check with the bank or put a hold on your account.
Hopefully, no one in Anguilla who received this, and I am sure I am not the only one, was tricked.