09 June, 2008


Is it Ever Acceptable for an Attorney to Ask a Minister to Do a Favour for a Client? I do not normally respond to jibes and insults. Any blogger who opens fire in the direction of others must expect to be fired back at. However, there was one comment posted on ‘Big Chief” that requires a response. The anonymous commentator, among other things, said,

“All of you, including Brent, have on occasions requested some Government Minister to address a problem you faced from the Civil Service Staff. To assist you in a situation not to your liking but which may have been in strict compliance with a Law or Regulation. You were all granted your assistance. Its no different now.
Why the sudden ‘Virtue’?”

It is a corrupt form of government that permits a Minister to bend the law for a favoured supporter. It is dangerous and corrupt for a lawyer to ask a Minister for a special favour. That is unacceptable conduct under any system of government. Ours is a small society. There are so many petty spites and hurts. There are so many cousins and supporters who come seeking a favour. It is a particularly pernicious and evil system in a society such as ours.

Our representatives are elected to the House of Assembly to represent all the people’s interests. They select the Executive branch of government from among themselves. The Executive branch develops national policy. They bring that policy to the members of the Legislature as a Bill or Motion. The Legislature debates the Bill, and passes it into law, or rejects it. The Judges adjudicate when there is a dispute between citizen and citizen, or citizen and government. The Public Service reads the law passed by the Legislature. They apply that law impartially and fairly to all citizens. They make no exception, except within the bounds set by the law. That is our Westminster-style Constitution at work in its ideal form.

No Minister is permitted to contact a public servant and tell him or her to make an exception for a favourite of the Minister. Nor, can a Minister ring up a public servant and tell him or her to treat one citizen more severely than another. We are supposed to have a system of government of laws, and not of men. That is how we ensure government works fairly and equitably.

What Brent was complaining about is that in Anguilla we do not have a system of government by law. He was suggesting that here, a particular favoured contractor can go to a Minister and get a work permit approved, when that work permit was disapproved of by the Labour Department officer who was only applying the government’s policy and the law.

We would not have a system of government by law and not of men if a foreign employer were to fire an Anguillian employee for stealing, and the Chief Minister could tell the employer that he either re-hires the employee or he loses his work permit. That is a system of government that Anguillians want to avoid.

That is the system of government they have in Antigua and Grenada and St Vincent. That is how VC Bird and Eric Gairy operated. We do not want it in Anguilla.

I cannot speak for Brent. I can only speak for myself. I practiced law in St Kitts between 1971 and 1976. I never approached a Minister and asked him to make an exception for a client.

I practised law in Anguilla between 1980 and my retirement in 1999. I had many clients who needed licences and permits. I helped them by advising them of their rights and of the procedures under our law. I made the application for them. Then, I left it to the Administration to apply their laws and policies. I expected them to be impartial and fair. I never once approached a Minister of Government for a favour of any kind.

Ministers of Government came to my office for legal services. I charged them a fee. I never performed free legal services for a single one of them. I would not have wanted them to think they owed me a favour.

I would be ashamed to think that a single present-day lawyer in Anguilla behaves otherwise.

The comment in question quoted above is not only not true, it reflects badly on whomsoever wrote it.


  1. This is one of your biggest packs of lies yet told!

  2. "No man's life or property is safe while the legislature is in session" -- Mark Twain

    "A 'prince' is a bandit who doesn't move." -- Mancur Olsen, "Power and Prosperity"

    "An election is a sort of advance auction of stolen goods." -- H.L. Mencken

    In Anguilla, there are exactly four guys who run the country: a majority in the House of Assembly.

    In the old days, there wasn't anything to steal, and Anguilla's 'princes' could quite easily afford honor, morality, and rectitude. And so they were, as history, and eyewitnesses to events, tell us. That is the primary paradox of government power in the modern world.

    These days, the Anguillian government is hauling down so much money it can't spend it fast enough. It has passed so much ad hoc, spur of the moment, frankly capricious, legislation, banning everything from personal watercraft to remote control model powerboats to various breeds of dog, that the temptation to misuse those "resources" must be positively embarrassing.

    A politician's *role* in life, under such circumstances, starts to become one of "fixing things" around the edges for one's friends and family.

    "Justice", for lack of a better word, could become positively accidental if things keep going the way they are.

    And don't think that the judiciary is immune.

    Judges all over the world are discovering the "morality" of legislating from the bench, to the point where liberty is practically an endangered species, sometimes on the behalf of one "endangered" species or another -- at the expense of human livelihoods, and even human life.

    Judges do in no way become sanctified beings just because they wear robes to work.

    Again, the solution to the problem of government "corruption" is fewer laws, not more; lower taxes, not higher; smaller government, not larger; and less, not exponentially increasing, government power.

    *All* government revenue, is, de facto, stolen. It's literally confiscated at the point of a gun. Refuse, at any time, to pay customs duty, for instance, and see how long you stay out of jail. They don't call it "force monopoly" for nothin', ladies and gentlemen.

    The same goes for government power, in general. "A bandit who doesn't move", indeed.

    It's easy enough to rationalize away the sin of 'reallocating' previously stolen goods -- or stealing someone's time complying with spurious regulation -- but it's still theft.

    Like in the old days, if there is nothing for the government to steal, then honor in government will become more abundant, not less -- and the lives and property of all Anguillians will be safer as a result.

  3. The favours system has worked for years on Anguilla. Bribes are commonplace and if you dont pay the ferryman you will be cast overboard.

    You can tell from how big some lawyers got quickly that either they were really, really lucky in getting some very rich clients or they were in bed with someone who sent people their way for a "consideration" or were close family to a minister in power.

    People turn a blind eye to this type of thing even when they know its going on because they dont want people coming after them for slander or libel at best or a gun at worst.

    Until we get into a properly regulated structure that people can trust, those in power or with money will carry on feathering their nests without fear of reprisals and if someone gets in their way, they'll just call in one or more favour to ensure the problem goes away.

  4. Just like s little Zimbabwe

  5. ....or just like a little England -but of course we Anguillians do not read so we do not know about the sale of honours and the dodgy dorsiers!!!

    The fact is that the vast Majority of Anguillian politicians are very honest god-fearing men. It is truly a testament to the value of the old fashion up-bringing that most of these men had ,why there is no "real" corruption, given the lack of checks and balances.

    They would not declared war or grant a knighthgood,a OBE , a CBE or a Q.C to an undeserving person!

    I do agree that there is a need for more openess and transparancy and that proper checks and balances should be put into place, for ALL the big chiefs, including the ones who take up residence at old ta!!!


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