BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – On December 8 – 9, 2021, the Canadian Government funded Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) Project sponsored a two-day virtual workshop via Zoom for regional judicial officers, insolvency trustees, attorneys-at-Law and accountants on the IMPACT Justice Model Insolvency Bill.
The facilitator of the workshop was E. Patrick Shea, LSM, CS, a partner at the Toronto-based Gowling WLG law firm and insolvency specialist, who was instrumental in the drafting of the IMPACT Justice Model Insolvency Bill. Approximately 55 persons logged in to view the proceedings, including several judges of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and the supervisors of insolvency of Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadine and Trinidad and Tobago.
Professor Velma Newton, CBE, SCM, regional project director of the IMPACT Justice Project chaired the event and opened the proceedings with a brief overview of the IMPACT Justice Project and background to the workshop. She mentioned that the initiative was first undertaken to assist the government of Barbados with updating its Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, Cap. 303 but invitations were also extended to the governments of Trinidad and Tobago and St Vincent and the Grenadines in recognition that their Insolvency legislation followed the same model.
The Project also engaged industry experts from Barbados’ leading law firms and accounting firms to sit on a select committee with the supervisors of insolvency of the above mentioned countries, the chief parliamentary counsel of Trinidad and Tobago and Shea to prepare the drafting instructions for the Model Bill taking into account regional and international best practices and jurisprudence.
Professor Newton also mentioned that the initiative officially got underway in October 2019 with a regional stakeholder meeting at the Accra Beach Hotel which was attended by the then Chief Justice of Barbados Sir Marston Gibson, KA; Dwight Sutherland, minister of small business, entrepreneurship and commerce; and Benoît-Pierre Laramée, then minister counsellor, High Commission of Canada, Bridgetown (now ambassador of Canada to the Democratic Republic of the Congo).
Over the two days of training, the facilitator, Shea, took the participants through many of the key provisions of the Model Bill, including those which deal with role of the supervisor of insolvency, liquidation, reorganisation and the appointment of receivers. Ultimately, those in attendance were very glad for the workshop and many commented that they looked forward to the adoption of the IMPACT Justice Model Insolvency Bill in their respective jurisdictions in the near future.
Now that this training is concluded, plans are being made to facilitate training of judges through a trip to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Bankruptcy and Insolvency, however, scheduling this training has been affected by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.