Governor defends appointment of Chief Justice

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  • Controversial choice: Narinder Hargun’s appointment has been criticised by David Burt

    Controversial choice: Narinder Hargun’s appointment has been criticised by David Burt

The appointment process for the next Chief Justice, Narinder Hargun, was fair and in line with the island’s constitution, the Governor said yesterday.

The news came as the Bermuda Bar Council threw its weight behind the appointment of Mr Hargun, a former top lawyer with global legal firm Conyers, Dill & Pearman.

A spokesman for Government House said Mr Rankin had “carefully considered the appointment of the Chief Justice, drawing upon advice received from the Judicial and Legal Services Committee and after consultation with the Premier, who in turn consulted the Leader of the Opposition, in accordance with section 73(3) of the Constitution”.

The Government House statement came after David Burt, the Premier, said Mr Hargun’s appointment was “an affront” to the Government and that he did not support Mr Hargun’s appointment as replacement for Chief Justice Ian Kawaley.

Mr Burt also confirmed he had been consulted by Mr Rankin.

The Bermuda Bar Association said yesterday it was satisfied that the committee’s selection had been “fair and sufficiently independent”.

The association added: “Mr Hargun is a former president of the Bermuda Bar Association and he has been a leading commercial attorney for the last 35 years, involved in many leading commercial and other cases in Bermuda, and he enjoys the widespread respect of his peers for his integrity and legal acumen.

“He comes with a wealth of experience to the post which will serve the judiciary well.

“No doubt, with Mr Hargun at the helm, we can be assured that the high standards currently held by Bermuda’s judiciary and court officials will continue.”

The association added it was “essential for there to be an independent judiciary”.

It said that the selection committee for the post included representatives with both Bermudian and international legal expertise.

The association said: “The JLSC is chaired by the president of Bermuda’s Court of Appeal and has a membership reflecting both legal expertise and lay opinion.

“The JLSC here was given a similar role to those established constitutionally elsewhere.”

Government House added that the selection came after an “open and competitive process”.

A spokesman said that Mr Hargun was “a highly regarded lawyer both within Bermuda and internationally” whose selection would “help maintain the island’s standing as a legal jurisdiction of the highest order”.

The statement added: “The separation of the executive, judiciary and legislature is an important pillar of good governance and the Governor is confident that Narinder Hargun will execute his duties impartially and fairly for the benefit of all Bermudians.”

Mr Burt was asked on Wednesday for the grounds for his opposition to Mr Hargun taking over the Chief Justice role.

He has yet to respond.

Mr Hargun was born in India and emigrated to Britain with his family as a child.

He studied law at the world-renowned London School of Economics, and left with an LLB and master of laws degrees in 1976.

He later qualified as a barrister in England and Wales.

The 63-year-old came to Bermuda shortly afterwards and has since acquired Bermudian status.

He retired from Conyers Dill & Pearman on April 1 after serving as director and head of litigation.

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Published Apr 27, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 27, 2018 at 8:15 am)

Governor defends appointment of Chief Justice

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