Speaker of the House of Assembly, Julian Willock has put the newly-appointed Attorney General (AG) Dawn Smith on notice that he will be exercising his right to seek independent legal counsel in the future.
According to Section 58 of the BVI’s constitution, the attorney general shall be the principal legal adviser to the government of the Virgin Islands.
Some of the key responsibilities of the territory’s attorney general include serving as ex-officio of the House of Assembly, piloting bills, and rendering advice on legal issues arising with respect to the proceedings of the House of Assembly and other related matters.
Willock’s statement was made during a special sitting in the House of Assembly to swear-in AG Smith on Thursday.
He said: “Madam incoming Attorney General, I know in my role as Speaker that we may not always agree. However, I trust that we will avoid, while in my official capacity, where the Attorney General is arguing against the Speaker of the House in a court of law.”
“Notwithstanding, at times I will exercise the right to obtain independent legal advice. But please do not ever see this as a method to undermine your wise counsel, rather it is only to supplement it,” he added.
Long days ahead
Willock welcomed AG Smith as an official member of the House but also warned her of the long and demanding days ahead in her tenure.
“While you will escape many of the demands that the thirteen of our members face on a daily basis from the general public, I am sure the Premier would have briefed you that he has an ambitious legislative agenda. Therefore, expect long days, long nights, and long debates in this chamber,” the Speaker stated.
He added: “More often than not, you will also be called upon to give your legal opinion on continuous matters. Therefore, you have your work cut out for you, but I too take comfort in knowing you are up to the task.”
Willock is no stranger to independent counsel
Speaker Willock has already established a history of seeking independent legal counsel, which last cost the taxpayers more than $270,000.
This was made evident in the historic case between himself and the Representative of the Fourth District, Mark Vanterpool back in 2019. The case spanned almost three months before the Speaker conceded.
Copyright 2021 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.