Stanley Moore: ‘A legal eagle with an indelible mark in legal fraternity

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By Svetlana Marshall

Characterised as a man of unusual intellectual and moral worth, nobility and grandeur, whose contributions to the judicial systems in Guyana, Montserrat, Grenada,the British Virgin Islands, The Bahamas, Botswana and Swaziland have left an indelible mark, Senior Counsel Stanley Alfred Moore continues to be a beacon of light as he enters his 52nd Year as a legal practitioner.

His advancement across borders saw him moving from Acting Magistrate in 1973 – three years after being admitted to the Bar in Guyana – to becoming a Justice of Appeal in the Kingdom of Swaziland in 2010. For Senior Counsel Moore, it was “hard work and dedication” that led him to fulfil his true calling in the legal arena. But his life story started long before he was called to the Bar on July 26, 1970.



Born on July 1, 1935 to a Surinamese mother, Olive Isabella Walcott-Moore and a Guyanese father, Llewelyn Cornette-Moore, Moore lived in New Amsterdam with his parents from birth up until he was two years old. His family then relocated to Kitty, Georgetown.

There he attended the St James-the-Less Anglican Primary School, now known as the F.E. Pollard Primary School, before moving onto the Tutorial High School, having qualified for a Government County Scholarship in 1947 but being awarded a Tutorial Scholarship.

By 1950, he successfully completed the Cambridge School Certificate Examination with exemption from the London Matriculation, and subsequently the Cambridge Higher School Certificate in 1952. Notably, Moore was among four Tutorial High School students, who, for the first time in the school’s history, passed the Cambridge Higher School Certificate Examination in 1952. Cognizant that he was not the smartest among the lot, Moore knew all too well he had to work even harder to succeed in life. “I was not a top student at that stage.Out of the 22 boys who passed the Cambridge School Certificate Examination, my position was somewhere around number 11 but somewhere in my mind I had the idea that if I continued to work hard, I would eventually achieve more than the ones who were ahead of me at that stage, and so it turned out to be,” 86-year-old Moore told the Village Voice Newspaper during an interview.

Having completed high school, Moore, in 1953, returned to his alma mater – the St James-the-Less Anglican Primary School, where he taught as a ‘Pupil Teacher’ for a period of one term before moving onto the St. Barnabas Anglican School where he completed the academic year. From January, 1954 to June, 1960, Moore served as a Customs and Excise Officer in Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise Department. “While I was working, I developed an interest in law, which I supposed birthed even while I was in High School,” Moore told this publication.

However, unable to travel to England, Moore began reading for his Bachelor of Law Degree in Guyana as an external student of the London University. He secured his LLB Degree in 1962. The Senior Counsel attributed his success to his mentors – Rex Mc Kay, OR, LLB, SC; Sir Joaquim Gonsalves-Sabola; J.O.F Haynes; and Sir Lionel Luckhoo – who were his sources of inspiration, and who, at every opportunity, offered tremendous guidance and support.

Even as he pursued law, Moore was awarded a Booker Group of Companies Commercial Cadetship in 1960. From 1961 to 1965, Moore served as a Commercial Cadet and Management Trainee and Company Secretary (ag) at Bookers Shipping Demerara Limited.During that period, he also served as a Management Trainee at Bookers’ Sugar Estates before joining Bookers Shipping Demerara Limited.

But even though Moore made significant advancements within the group of companies, he could not resist his calling.

“They were very good to me but the time came when two things happened; the pull of the law was becoming increasingly strong, and my concept of management seemed to differ from the concept of Bookers’ Shipping Demerara Limited,” he told the Village Voice Newspaper.

According to him, his departure from Bookers’ Shipping Demerara Limited was amicable, so much so, that when it was time to depart Guyana for England to pursue his Master of Laws Degree, he did so as a non-paying guest on one of the company’s vessels.

It was in 1966 that Moore was awarded the Commonwealth Scholarship to pursue his Master of Laws Degree at the London University. Just one year after, he was adjudged Student Advocate of the Year at Lincoln’s Inn (1967). That very year, he became the first winner of the Eric Crowther Shield.

By 1970, he successfully completed theEnglish Bar Exam at Lincoln’s Inn, before returning to Guyana, where he was admitted to the Bar on July 26, 1970 by Justice Joaquim Gonsalves-Sabola. “My petition for admission to the Bar was presented by then Attorney-at-Law and Senior Counsel JOF Haynes and his junior was Rex McKay who had not yet elevated to Senior Counsel,” the legal luminary recalled.

Once admitted, Moore practiced in all areas of Criminal and Civil Law in McKay and Moore Law Chambers, however, after just three years of service, he became an acting Magistrate in 1973. As an acting Magistrate, he traveled to many courts in the interior of Guyana to preside over summary matters and preliminary inquiries into indictable charges.

“I was offered a permanent appointment but when I looked at the salary, [and] my immediate budgetary necessities, I couldn’t afford to accept the appointment. So I continued in practice until 1979,” Moore explained.

Moore became an acting High Court Judge in 1979, and had the opportunity to preside over the Criminal Assizes, and though he was offered a permanent appointment, it was one he could not take because his expenses outweighed the proposed salary, and as such, he remained in private practice until 1990.

Notably, from 1981 to 1982, he served as a Senior Cabinet Minister of Home Affairs and Member of Parliament in Guyana. During that time, he acted as the Minister of Justiceand Attorney General in the absence of Dr. Mohamed Shahabudeen Q.C. He resigned and returned to private life in 1982.

As if he did not already attain great heights in Guyana’s judicial system within a period of 20 years, Moore, at the behest of his wife Cheryl who became an airline pilot in 1989, sought to further his career in the Eastern Caribbean.

Cheryl, according to Moore, had persuaded him to relocate after she had taken up an appointment in Antigua. For the couple, Guyana and Antigua were too far apart, and as such, an island closer to Antigua was sought.

“In those countries, the people who really have the ability to become judges, do not take up those appointments because they work for far much more if they are in private practice. But there was a little opening in Montserrat, which was convenient because the airtime between Antigua and Montserrat was 10 minutes, and the time from where I lived in Montserrat to the time where my wife was living in Antigua was 90 minutes, so we were pretty close. So I took up the appointment in Montserrat [in March 1990], first of all as Principal Crown Counsel and then as Attorney General, and while I was Attorney General, I acted as the Governor of Montserrat on many occasions,” Moore detailed.

His tenure as an Attorney General in Montserrat came to an end in 1992 when he was appointed as a Resident Judge in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Grenada – a post he held until 1996.

In 1996, he was assigned to the Eastern Caribbean Court in the British Virgin Islands as a Senior Resident Judge. “This proved to be a very challenging posting. There are very few cases at the Assizes. But a corresponding preponderance of Civil and Commercial cases with an international flavour. English and Caribbean silks regularly appeared,” he noted.

Following his retirement from the Eastern Caribbean Court in the British Virgin Islands, Moore served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of The Bahamas, Southern Division from March-December 2000, and subsequently as a Senior Justice of the Supreme Court of The Bahamas, Northern Division from July 2001 to December 2002.

It was Queen’s Counsel Harvey Tynes, who during a ceremony to mark Moore’s retirement from the Supreme Court of The Bahamas, Northern Division, in December 2002, described him as a man of great wisdom.

“The fear is borne of the awesome responsibility to do justice to a man who is exalted in thought, expression and bearing. The deference is borne of a desire to do justice to a man of unusual intellectual and moral worth; to a man of nobility and grandeur; to a man who represents the perfect blend of the finest qualities which every judge ought to possess; to a man who, over a period of three short years, Bahamian lawyers have come to regard as a friend and a brother…” Queen’s Counsel Tynes was quoted as saying.

According to him, Moore demonstrated honesty and true scholarship in his application of the law. Others described him as a “legal eagle” in the Bahamian skies.

Two years after his retirement, the legal luminary was appointed Justice of Appeal in the Republic of Botswana in July 2004, a post he held until 2012 and later Justice of Appeal in the Kingdom of Swaziland from 2010 to 2014.

After his appointment in Swaziland came to an end, he was encouraged to return home.

“My mentor, my lifelong mentor Rex McKay suggested that I could come back to Guyana and take up my place again in the Chambers of McKay and Moore, and so I did in 2016,” he said.

Of the many significant cases he presided over from Guyana in South America to Grenada in the Eastern Caribbean to Swaziland in Southern Africa, the retired Judge said he takes special pride in the six cases that reached the Privy Council.

“In all six cases, my first instance judgments were upheld by the Privy Council.In cases 1, 2, 5 and 6, the Privy Council overturned the findings of the respective Courts of Appeal,which had overturned my judgments, and restored the judgments and orders of Moore J. In the other 2 cases, the Courts of Appeal had upheld my findings and dismissed the appeal,” he explained.

Those cases are: Gairy v Attorney General of Grenada [2001] UKPC 30; Dailey v Dailey [2003] UKPC 65, the British Virgin Islands; Archer v The Registrar General [2004] UKPC 31, The Bahamas; DiedrichsShurland v Talanga Stiftung [2006] UKPC 58, The Bahamas; Oliver v The Queen [2007] UKPC 9, The Bahamas; and Innis v AG for St. Christopher and Nevis [2008] UKPC 42, St. Kitts and Nevis.

He was keen on pointing out that several of his judgments from Swaziland were published in the Law Reports of the Commonwealth. “Most of the Swaziland Judgments published in the LRC between 2011 and 2015 were written by me,” he said.

As he celebrated his 50th year as a legal luminary, Moore was admitted into the Inner Bar as a Senior Council in 2020. Earlier this month, the Guyana Bar Association honoured him for his more than 50 years as a Counsel.

Moore made special mention of Chancellors Aubrey Bishop and Chancellor Desiree Bernard, who, along with Haynes, Luckhoo, Gonsalves-Sabolaand McKay, offered him tremendous support.

“JOF Haynes, when I became an attorney, he led me many times; Sir Lionel Luckhoo, he led me many times; and of course, Rex McKay led me many times; and I learnt a great deal from them, (a) in preparing a case for trial, (b) in conducting a trial, and (c) in preparing oneself for what the other side’s argument might be and designing a scheme to counter those arguments from the authorities,” he explained.

Reflecting on Guyana’s judicial system, the retired judge said, the country has undoubtedly made significant progress.

“There are no perfect systems; if they were all perfect systems, we wouldn’t need to have Appeal Courts but the judges and the lawyers of Guyana as a group, I would say, have done exceptionally well. The Guyana Court of Appeal has a distinguished history of very able Chancellors,” he told the Village Voice Newspaper.

He applauded the country for being a founding member of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in its appellate jurisdiction.

“I think the Caribbean Court of Justice is a very progressive court; and I am very impressed with the way in which it is developing the law to keep in touch with modern developments, in politics, in science, technology and human relations; for example we have only recently had some very comprehensive and tutorial judgments on sentencing,” he posited.

The Senior Counsel also recognized the work of the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, who, he said, has initiated a number of policies and programmes to improve the country’s judicial system.

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