Long time BVI resident and Barbados born, Attorney-at-law Lewis Stephenson Hunte Q.C. who is known for his wit and stories of days gone-by has penned these nuggets of interest in his recently released autobiography – “Memoirs of a Caribbean Lawyer”.
The 246-page book takes the reader through the life of the Queen’s Counsel with information about his ancestry, school years and key moments of practice. As a busy attorney Mr. Hunte said that the book which chronicles details from 1831 to present took him a few years to compile.
During his interview with The Island Sun newspaper the learned attorney and former BVI Attorney General disclosed that his first intention was to become a priest in the Anglican church and he mentioned that his mother upon hearing the news that he was no longer interested in the priesthood and would instead be entering the legal arena said: “Oh dear my Lewis is going from heaven to hell.”
He first entered the world of work as a school teacher and as a Civil Servant in Barbados. Following his brief stint in those areas his journey through legal studies began. Mr. Hunte noted that there were no law schools in the region at that time and as such he mentioned that he entered the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn in London in October 1961 and was called to the Bar in November 1965.
Returning to Barbados in 1967, he served as Deputy Registrar of Barbados for seven months before accepting the post of Deputy Registrar of the Court of Appeal of Jamaica. He served in that capacity for two years before being invited to return to Barbados to take up the post of Magistrate.
After 18 months he was promoted to the post of Parliamentary Counsel in the Attorney General’s Chambers. He received special training in legislative drafting at the University of Ottawa and the Federal Department of Justice of Canada in 1974-75.
Other noteworthy career points include the fact that Mr Hunte received special training in Intellectual Property Law at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a United Nations’ Agency based in Geneva and he used this training to revise and update the Intellectual Property laws of Barbados in 1981.
His stay in the BVI was noted as it stated that in 1982 he was invited to take the post of Attorney General of the British Virgin Islands, a post he held from 1982 to 1985. In those years he said he drafted all of the legislation of the BVI, including the International Business Companies Act which became a pillar of the BVI economy, in addition to prosecuting the cases on behalf of the government and sitting in Cabinet and as a nominated member of the House of Assembly.
While he was BVI’s Attorney General, Mr. Hunte was invited to join the law firm of Harney Westwood & Riegels which he did on the expiration of his tenure as Attorney General. While at Harneys he was appointed one of Her Majesty’s Counsel for the British Virgin Islands.
Queen’s Counsel Hunte retired from Harneys on 31 December 2003 and, in April the following year, founded the law firm Hunte & Co. with his daughter Laura Arthur. From time to time, Mr. Hunte has also been appointed to act as High Court Judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
As he reflected on his many years in the legal fraternity Mr. Hunte told The Island Sun that there was more camaraderie in those days at the Bar. “Advocacy was sharp, but when we got outside we forgot about it. Things have changed,” he said.
Mr. Hunte explained that the best part of putting the book together was reflecting on his journey. While he does not have a specific favorite part of the book, he is urging residents of the BVI to pay attention to Chapter 14 which tells the behind the scenes story of how the legislation that paved the way for the bread and butter financial services industry came to be.
As he explained much about the book, and specifically chapter 14 he said: “If I didn’t do (write) it the time will come when there would be nobody left to tell the story. People ought to know where it came from how it came about, important aspects and who played a part,” he said.