History

Prior to the latter years of the 1980’s, the Young Lawyers Association provided a forum where Attorneys could meet and discuss developments in the law and examine current common issues that affected them in their practice.. However, this association ceased to be active around the mid 1980s.

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Supreme Court, Kingston

Subsequently, early in the 1990s, Attorneys started to meet under the leadership of the late Ian Ramsay, Q.C., O.J. who sought to fill the need for discussion of the merits of the law.  Other Attorneys such as Howard Hamilton, Q.C., K.D. Knight, Q.C. and Norma Linton, Q.C. would meet and discuss recent decisions of the Privy Council, our Court of Appeal and the British Commonwealth countries.

At this time the younger members of the profession especially those who practiced in the criminal Courts, felt that their issues were not being addressed and they had no platform from which to speak.  As a result, the Advocates Association of Jamaica was born.

Ian Ramsay along with Jacqueline Samuels-Brown, crafted a Constitution which the Association adopted in 1992.  Ian Ramsay envisioned an association of practitioners, in particular those whose practice took them into Court, where there was a forum through which they could contribute to the development of the profession, the law and improve their skills as advocates.  He always insisted that the fee to become a member of the Association should be modest, and not act as a deterrent to Attorneys becoming members.  Succeeding administrations have been mindful of his wish and have ensured that it remains affordable to all.

Among the many issues Ian Ramsay felt strongly about and championed was that the Unsworn Statement should be retained, for he recognized that due to the low level of education of many accused persons, they would be put at great peril in having to give evidence on their own behalf.

Ian Ramsay Q.C., O.J. was President of the Association from 1992 to 1996. Norma Linton Q.C. was the next President.  During her tenure, the Association sought to have membership on the General Legal Council which is the body that has statutory responsibility for regulating the legal profession.  This was achieved and the Association is now able to nominate one (1) person to be a member of the Council.

The current President is George Soutar, Q.C., O.D.  The Association is now consulted on many matters including the development of procedures for the conduct of legal proceedings, appointments to the Judiciary, legislation and other areas concerned with updating the law and how it is practiced.  The Association continues to advocate for improvements in the Justice system, specifically in the detention facilities.

A function of the Association is to try and intervene on behalf of its members in relation to problems encountered with the Courts, the police, the prison system and wherever its members practice may take them.

The Association is now a registered corporation with limited liability.  It has a structure made up of the President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Executive and Sub-Committees.

The Advocates Association is committed to improving the skills and knowlege of practitioners and strives for improvement of the environment in which practitioners work.

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