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Ivan Whitehall, QC (Photograph supplied)

A top lawyer from Canada has resigned his position as counsel for the Commission of Inquiry into Historic Land Losses in Bermuda, it was revealed today.

Officials for the hearings said that Ivan Whitehall QC stepped down for “personal reasons”.

The secretariat added: “The Commission has accepted his resignation.

“To ensure that there is no disruption of the proceedings, Ms Susan Mulligan, attorney at law, has been engaged during the transition period and new Commission counsel has been engaged and will shortly assume duties.

“The Commission wishes to assure the public that the continuation of its proceedings is of paramount importance, and that it is doing all it can to ensure that there is no disruption.”

The Commission’s website said that Mr Whitehall was “part of an elite circle of litigators, having appeared dozens of times before the Supreme Court of Canada”.

It added: “He is also one of those rare lawyers possessing experience with major commercial cases, arbitrations and public inquiries.”

The website said: “For several years Mr Whitehall has been listed as one of the best lawyers in Canada and lectured extensively on numerous legal topics.

“Mr Whitehall was once again recognised as one of the best lawyers in Canada in 2017 for his work in international arbitration and Aboriginal law.”

When the Commission started its public hearings last month, retired judge Norma Wade-Miller, the chairwoman, said that the coronavirus pandemic meant it was “impossible” for Mr Whitehall to attend in person.

She added: “However, I am glad to advise that thanks to modern technology, we’re able to link with him electronically for the purpose of this hearing.”

Mrs Justice Wade-Miller said that Mr Whitehall had “extensive experience serving as counsel on various commission of inquiries”.

She explained then that Bruce Swan, of Bruce Swan and Associates, would also lead “aspects of the examinations” throughout the hearings.

But Mrs Justice Wade-Miller told the Commission on Monday that Ms Mulligan would assist Mr Swan.

She added that Ms Mulligan, who is a barrister at Christopher’s Law Chambers, had “significant experience in litigation and a history” of dealing with land loss matters.

The Commission of Inquiry’s website said it was set up last October by David Burt, the Premier, to “inquire into historic losses of citizens’ property in Bermuda”.

It added that the Commission was “not a court of law, and it cannot issue any orders that will address individual land losses or attempt to provide an individual remedy for such loss”.

The site said: “Rather, it must determine whether a claim is an example of a systemic ’land grab’ and/or whether a report should be made to the Director of Public Prosecutions for further action.”

Mr Whitehall could not be contacted for comment today.

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Published October 27, 2020 at 11:24 pm (Updated October 27, 2020 at 11:55 pm)

Commission counsel quits post for personal reasons

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