Log In

Reset Password

Desiree Bernard, former Bermuda judge, mourned

Justice Desiree Bernard

The legal fraternity across the Caribbean is mourning the loss of trailblazing Justice Desiree Bernard, who died in Trinidad & Tobago last Thursday.

She was 85.

The late Guyanese judge was appointed to Bermuda’s Court of Appeal in 2014; she was the second woman judge to serve in the higher court.

Patricia Dangor marked the first appointment, earlier that same year, serving until 2016.

Mrs Justice Bernard’s appointment was hailed as a coup for the island by George Fergusson, the governor, who said: “Justice Bernard will bring her extensive experience in the Caribbean courts as well as becoming the second female justice to be appointed to Bermuda’s Court of Appeal.”

Notable contributions from the bench included a 2016 ruling by the Court of Appeal on the Michael Barbosa case, which potentially opened the way for British Overseas Territories citizens to seek Bermudian status.

Mrs Justice Bernard overturned a ruling by the lower court, based on the Constitution’s definition of those deemed to be “belonging” to Bermuda.

Guyana’s Supreme Court of Judicature said it was saddened by her passing.

“Her Honour was a trailblazer and paved the way for women to join and excel in the legal fraternity,” the court said in a statement.

Mrs Justice Bernard was appointed the first woman judge in the High Court of Guyana in 1980, and she later served as the country’s first woman Chief Justice.

She served as Chancellor of the Judiciary of Guyana from 2001 to 2005, making her the first woman head of the judiciary there as well as in the Commonwealth Caribbean Region.

She was elevated to the bench of the Caribbean Court of Justice and was the only woman judge of that court for the duration of her tenure from 2005 to 2014.

The CCJ described her as a “pioneering jurist” who provided “exemplary service” to the court.

Mrs Justice Bernard was the recipient of several awards in her home country including the Cacique Crown of Honour and the Order of Roraima, Guyana’s third and second-highest national awards, respectively.

Guyana’s Supreme Court described Mrs Justice Bernard as an advocate for women’s rights.

She was remembered as being a mentor for many persons, especially women lawyers and women judicial officers.

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published April 03, 2024 at 7:57 am (Updated April 03, 2024 at 7:47 am)

Desiree Bernard, former Bermuda judge, mourned

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon