Bayley v Blackman

JudgeHusbands, J.
Judgment Date22 September 1989
CourtDivisional Court (Barbados)
Docket NumberNo. 73 of 1988
Date22 September 1989

Divisional Court

Husbands, J.; Belgrave, J.

No. 73 of 1988


Mr. E. D. Mottley, Q.C., for the appellant.

Mr. E. G. Husbands for the respondent.

Legal profession - Professional ethics — Contempt of court — Magistrates Jurisdiction and Procedure Act, Cap. 116 — Contempt of court — Whether words spoken amounted to contempt — Doubts as to whether appellant given a fair opportunity to be heard in his defence.

Husbands, J.

On Friday, the 4th of December, 1989, at the Magistrate's Court for District “E” (Holetown) a case in which the appellant, an attorney-at-law had an interest was called and adjourned by the magistrate at the request of the prosecuting sergeant. Immediately thereafter an incident occurred which resulted in the magistrate citing and fining the appellant for contempt of court. The appellant appealed against this order on the following grounds –

“The learned magistrate erred in law –

  • (a) in not telling the appellant in what way he was in contempt;

  • (b) not specifying the nature of the alleged contempt;

  • (c) not affording the appellant an opportunity of being heard;

  • (d) By swearing the appellant and calling upon him to give evidence as a witness.”


The background to the matter is given in the affidavits of the appellant and Mr. D.K. Rawlins who was present in the court and in the magistrate's statement of the case specifying the causes of his conviction. In his statement of the case the magistrate says –

“On Friday December 4, 1987 at about 10.10 a.m. Agnes Bradshaw appeared in the Holetown Magistrate's Court to answer two informations for alleged breaches of s. 83 of the Road Traffic Act, Cap. 293 (Careless Driving) which were preferred against her by the Commissioner of Police.

Prosecutor Sergeant E. Thompson applied for an adjournment and suggested the date February 9, 1988. I consulted the court's diary for about two (2) minutes or so and adjourned the cases to February 9, 1988, not because of the prosecutor's request, but because it was not at all convenient for the court to hear the evidence in connexion with these cases on that day.

Within seconds of my announcing the date of adjournment, Mr. Eric Lawson Bayley, attorney-at-law, who had just arrived at the Bar Table and was still on his feet, said in a most ill-mannered and uncouth and contemptuous manner:

‘Why de case is adjourning. Why it can't try today?’

I paused for a while and looked in the direction of Mr. Bayley as I was surprised at Mr. Bayley's behaviour/misbehaviour. In addition, I was not then aware of any matter in which Mr. Bayley was retained; neither did the record show that he was retained in the Agnes Bradshaw cases. Most importantly, Mr. Bayley even at that stage had not entered or sought to enter an appearance for or on behalf of Ms. Bradshaw. Mr. Bayley then crudely and abruptly said:

“I representing she (pointing to accused Bradshaw). You seem to be making sport down here.”

Notwithstanding the crudity and gruffness of Mr. Bayley's behaviour, I told him that it was not at all convenient for the court to hear Mrs. Bradshaw's matters “today”.

Thereupon Mr. Bayley blurted out:

“You seem to be making sport down here” and he started to walk away from the Bar Table.

I called Mr. Bayley back and I told him that I had heard what he had just said. I told him I heard him say: “You seem to be making sport down here” and that those words amounted to a contempt of court, that they were insulting to this court and I wanted him to show reason why he should not be punished for contempt of court.

I told Mr. Bayley further that any reason he wanted to give, I would prefer it on oath if possible. Thereupon Mr. Bayley took the witness stand and after taking the oath said:

“Eric Lawson Bayley, Shop Hill, St. Thomas. I have nothing to say.”

The court then told accused Bayley that he had not shown reason why he should not be punished for contempt of court and so the court finds him guilty in accordance with the Act and he is fined $150.00 in 14 days or 14 days imprisonment. Mr. Bayley hurriedly left the court, muttering something which was inaudible to me. He was accompanied by his “client” Ms. Agnes Bradshaw.”


The appellant disputes many of these facts and in his affidavit states –

“That I was retained by Mrs. Agnes Cleopatra Bradshaw to appear on her behalf in a case brought by the Commissioner of Police against her at the District “E” Magistrate Court in Holetown.

That on the 4th day of December, 19871 appeared on behalf of my client before His Worship, Mr. Haynes Blackman, the Magistrate for District “E.”

That the case against Mrs. Bradshaw was called and adjourned until the 9th day of February, 1988.

That upon it being announced that the case had been adjourned I rose to my feet and addressed the magistrate informing him that the lady was present and I was representing her and it seemed to me that some reason ought to be given for not proceeding.

That the magistrate said to me that the court can't hear it today.

The Sergeant who was prosecuting then called the next case.

That while I was walking away from the Bar Table, I whispered to Mr. Deighton Rawlins who is an attorney-at-law, and said words to the effect that it looks like it is sport they are making down here.

That the magistrate called me back and asked me to show cause why he should not cite me for contempt.

That the magistrate then said to me that I must stand properly.

That the magistrate then told me to go into the witness stand and told the policeman who was present in Court to put me on Oath.

That I was not asked whether I wanted to give any evidence but was sworn.

That after being sworn I was asked by the magistrate whether I had anything to say.

That I told the magistrate that I have nothing to say.

That at no stage was I told by the magistrate what was the offence for which I was being charged and under which sub-section of section 122 of the Magistrate's Jurisdiction and Procedure Act, Cap. 116.

That the magistrate then fined me one hundred and fifty dollars in fourteen days or fourteen days in prison.”


On the issues of fact Mr. Mottley of counsel for the appellant urges the court to find in favour of the appellant. Counsel asks the court to find that the appellant as he was walking away from the Bar Table whispered to another attorney-at-law words to the effect that “It looks like it is sport they are making down here.” In the alternative counsel asks the court to find, having regard to the criminal nature of the proceedings, that it has not been proved to the standard required that the words alleged by the magistrate were used in the circumstances described by him. Having carefully considered the statement of the case and the affidavits filed, we accept the magistrate's version of the events and our findings are that the appellant spoke the words complained of to the magistrate, that the magistrate told the appellant he had heard him say “You seem to be making sport down here”, that those words amounted to contempt of court, that they were insulting to the Court and that he wanted the appellant to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt. Further, counsel submits that the words alleged by the magistrate to have been spoken by the appellant in the circumstances described do not amount to contempt of court. He contends that, at the highest, the words may be considered discourteous but not insulting nor were...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT