In Memory of the Rt Hon Mr Justice Michael de la Bastide TC by Sir Dennis Byron

The news of the passing of the Rt Hon Mr Justice Michael de la Bastide followed quickly on the news of the passing of the Hon Mme Justice Desiree Bernard. This is a time of reflection for those who knew them. Reflection because their lives should be celebrated because of the contributions they made to the evolution of Caribbean society and jurisprudence. Although his stellar reputation had preceded him, my first meaningful interactions with Micheal de la Bastide occurred when he was Chief Justice of Trinidad and Tobago and I of the Eastern Caribbean, and Justice Bernard was the Chancellor of the Judiciary of Guyana as part of the cadre of Caribbean Heads of Judiciary. These interactions were exciting and positive. The annual judicial retreats for the Caribbean Heads of Judiciary, of which he was an integral part, promoted collaboration on modernizing our respective judiciaries and improving the quality of justice delivery to the citizens of the region. I also recall feeling quite honoured when he frequently invited me to present at the regular judicial education retreats he organized for the Trinidad and Tobago judiciary. He implemented and put into practice the theories of judicial education which were just beginning to become a feature of judicial leadership. During this period his commitment to improving the quality of justice delivery was evidenced by the innovations and reforms that characterized his tenure as Chief Justice, as well as the high quality of jurisprudence emanating from the Trinidad and Tobago Court of Appeal. My next meaningful interaction with him occurred when I succeeded him as President of the CCJ and he offered advice and assistance to me. But as before his name and work were constantly before me during the seven years intervening years, I was educated, inspired and motivated by the work and jurisprudence of the newly inaugurated Caribbean Court of Justice under his tenure as its first President. The great regard with which regional and international jurists and legal scholars hold the CCJ is in no small part due to the work of Justice de la Bastide. As the first President of the Court, he played a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of the organisation. It is no easy task to head a newly formed judicial organisation, but he did so with wisdom, integrity, and dedication. Under his leadership, the CCJ emerged as a beacon of excellence, innovation, and efficiency. Together with the inaugural bench of judges, Justice de la Bastide laid the foundation for the Court’s reputation of fairness, sound reasoning, and judicial independence. Justice de la Bastide was an outstanding jurist with whom it was an honour to have been associated. He was a visionary with a passion for the law, exemplified by his dedication Sir Dennis Byron, Choc Villa, Choc Ridge, Marisule, St. Lucia Email: Tel: 1-758-484-1616 to advancing the rule of law and fostering judicial excellence, not just at home but throughout the region. Beyond his professional achievements, Justice de la Bastide was known for his humility, kindness, and generosity of spirit. He mentored countless aspiring lawyers and judges, leaving an indelible mark on the legal community. Undoubtedly, in times of challenge and uncertainty, Justice de la Bastide’s steady leadership provided reassurance and guidance. His judgments were not just legal rulings but expressions of profound empathy and understanding. He possessed a rare gift for balancing the scales of justice with compassion and empathy. His legacy is etched not only in the annals of law but also in the hearts of those he served and inspired. My deepest sympathies go out to his family during their time of grief. May you be comforted during this difficult time by your memories of him. May his soul rest in eternal peace. Sir Dennis Byron.

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