The Canadian Government funded Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) Project has kicked off its region-wide sensitisation programme on Continuing Legal Professional Development (CLPD) in St. Kitts.
The regional justice sector reform project hosted this first meeting in conjunction with the St. Kitts and Nevis Bar Association to raise awareness among its members about CLPD and the move towards making it mandatory in Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.
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 behind 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 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.