Attorney General of the British Virgin Islands
The Attorney General of the British Virgin Islands is the principal legal adviser to the Government of the British Virgin Islands. Under the Constitution of the British Virgin Islands the Attorney General sits ex officio in both the House of Assembly of the British Virgin Islands and in the Cabinet of the British Virgin Islands, but is not permitted to vote in either. The Attorney General also sits on the Committee for the Prerogative of Mercy and on the National Security Council.
The office traces its origins back to the reintroduction of democracy in the British Virgin Islands pursuant to the 1950 general election. At that time the Legislative Council (as the House of Assembly was then known) had to look to the Attorney General of the Leeward Islands for support. This was regarded as unsatisfactory and following the 1954 general election Herman Besson was appointed to the title of Legal Assistant to the Legislative Council. In 1959 the title of the office was changed to Crown Attorney, and subsequent to the introduction of Ministerial Government following the 1967 general election the office was titled Attorney General.
The Attorney General is supported by two senior law officers: the Solicitor General (in relation to civil matters) and the Director of Public Prosecutions (in relation to criminal matters).
When appearing in court, by convention the Attorney General sits one row in from the of the row reserved for Queen's Counsel.
The current Attorney General is Dr Christopher Malcolm.
Since 2007 in order to be qualified to be appointed as Attorney General a person must be eligible to be admitted as a lawyer in the British Virgin Islands, and must have not less than 10 years experience practising law. However, this was not always the case, and various past Attorneys General were either not admitted in the British Virgin Islands and in some cases were not even eligible to be admitted in the British Virgin Islands.
By law, since 2007 no person may be appointed to the office of Attorney General unless he or she is a Belonger to the Virgin Islands unless, in the opinion of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, there is no such person who is suitably qualified and able and willing to be so appointed. In practice, every single Attorney General appointed since 2007 has been a non-Belonger, and only one Attorney General in the history of the British Virgin Islands was a belonger at the time they were appointed (Dancia Penn).
List of Attorneys General of the British Virgin Islands
A total of 26 persons have been appointed to the office (including as Crown Attorney or Legal Assistant prior to 1967, and persons who were appointed as acting Attorney General), of whom 20 have been men and six have been women. Three have been Queen's Counsel (although two were appointed to the rank during office), and the remaining 23 have been from the Outer bar or solicitors during their time as Attorney General. The longest serving Attorney General to date has been Cherno Jallow, who served just under eight years (including time as acting Attorney General).
|Office holder||Title of office||Dates|
|Herman A. Besson||Legal Assistant||1954 - 1958|
|Oliver M. Browne||Crown Attorney||1958 - 1959|
|George A. Redhead||Crown Attorney||1959 - 1962|
|John A.B. Barwick, QC||Crown Attorney||1962 - 1964|
|Leo I. Austin||Crown Attorney||1964|
|J.S. Archibald||Crown Attorney||1964 - February 1965|
|Lionel W. Barker||Crown Attorney||1965 - March 1967|
|Attorney General||March 1967 - 1968|
|William L. MacIntyre||Attorney General (acting)||1968-1970|
|Edgar A.C. Hewlett||Attorney General (acting)||1970|
|Nolan Jacobs||Attorney General (acting)||1970 - 1972|
|Paula F. Beaubrun||Attorney General (acting)||17 July 1972 - 30 June 1973|
|Attorney General||1 July 1973 - 25 July 1977|
|Clare I. Roberts||Attorney General (acting)||1977|
|Jack Smith Hughes, OBE||Attorney General (acting)||1977|
|Michael J. Bradley||Attorney General (acting)||1977 - 1978|
|Velma I. Hamilton-Gayle||Attorney General (acting)||28 November 1978 - 10 October 1979|
|Sandra M.H. DeSilva||Attorney General||1979 - 1982|
|Lewis Hunte||Attorney General||1982 - 1986|
|Karl S. Atterbury||Attorney General||1986 - 1990|
|Donald A.B. Trotman||Attorney General||1990 - 1992|
|Dancia Penn, QC, OBE||Attorney General||1 October 1992 - 1999|
|Davidson K. Baptiste||Attorney General (acting)||1993|
|Cherno Jallow, QC||Attorney General (acting)||1 November 1999 - 21 February 2000|
|Attorney General||22 February 2000 - 2007|
|Kathleen Ayensu||Attorney General||24 June 2007 - 24 June 2010|
|Baba Aziz||Attorney General (acting)||24 June 2010 - 6 November 2011|
|Dr Christopher Malcom||Attorney General||7 November 2011 - Present|
|Mr Arden Warner also acted as Attorney General (acting) on various occasions for short terms.|
- Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007, section 58(2)
- Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007, section 63(1)
- Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007, section 47(1)
- Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007, section 44(1)
- Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007, section 57(1)(d)
- "BVI election and information results 1950–2011". BVI Deputy Governor's Office. pp. 195–199.
- Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007, section 95(5)
- The longest ever serving Attorney General was Cherno Jallow QC, who was only admitted as a lawyer in Gambia, and was thereby ineligible for admission to practice as a lawyer in the British Virgin Islands.
- Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007, section 95(6)
- Several Attorneys General settled in the British Virgin Islands and were naturalised after leaving office.
- Two former Attorneys General were subsequently elevated to Queen's Counsel later in their careers: Joseph Archibald, QC and Lewis Hunte, QC.
- "BVI election and information results 1950–2011". BVI Deputy Governor's Office. pp. 185–186.
- "Jamaican lawyer appointed attorney general overseas". The Gleaner (Jamaica). 20 November 2011.