Tribute to His Lordship, The Hon. Justice Errol L. Thomas
The Hon. Chief Justice, Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE, LL.D, Judges, Management, and Staff of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) join the regional legal fraternity in mourning the death of His Lordship, the Hon. Justice Errol L. Thomas. Justice Thomas was Vincentian born but a real Caribbean man at heart. His professional life demonstrated this as he served in judicial and other positions across several Caribbean countries.
Justice Thomas received his early education at the St. Vincent Boy’s Grammar School. He then attended Carleton University, Canada, where he read for his Bachelor of Arts in General Studies, the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, where he was awarded a Bachelor of Laws. He later attended the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad & Tobago where he obtained the Legal Education Certificate. Justice Thomas was called to the Bar in Barbados in 1976, Saint Lucia in 1994 and Grenada in 1996.
Throughout his illustrious career, Justice Thomas served as Crown Counsel, Attorney General’s Chambers, Barbados 1976 – 1978: Parliamentary Counsel [Ag.], Attorney General’s Chambers, Barbados 1978 – 1981: Parliamentary Counsel, Attorney General’s Chambers, Barbados 1980 – 1983: Senior Parliamentary Counsel, Attorney General’s Chambers, Barbados 1983 – 1986: Registrar of Titles, Ministry of Housing, Lands and the Environment, Barbados 1987 – 1994: Solicitor General, Attorney General’s Chambers, Saint Lucia 1994 – 1996. He later served as the Attorney General of Grenada from 1996-2001.
On the 1st November 2002, Justice Thomas’ philosophy of service above self and his desire to serve the people of the Caribbean region led him to join the Bench of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court as a High Court Judge. He was assigned to the Member State of Saint Kitts and Nevis. He served as an acting Justice of Appeal on many occasions. Justice Thomas’ career as a judge has been much more than the sum of his achievements. Throughout his tenure on the Bench, Justice Thomas always endeavoured to do justice as a jurist, striving not only to help those less fortunate than himself but also to train those who sought to follow in his footsteps. He set a remarkable example in how he conducted himself – always fair, decent, and respectful. He will be remembered for his humble spirit, patient disposition, sound advice and deep sincerity to everyone he encountered during his life.
His legal scholarship and contributions to the development of the jurisprudence of the Eastern Caribbean are recorded in the annals of the West Indian Reports and in the many unreported judgments he authored during his time on the Bench. His firm and correct belief was that the law should evolve on a case-by-case basis and that the court’s role in that process was to decide the issue before it – and to do so in clear, unequivocal language. Justice Thomas was committed to the rule of law and applied it fairly and temperately to ensure equal justice for the meek as well as the mighty. His interests, however, went beyond the law – encompassing history, governance, international relations, finance and of course cricket. He also thoroughly enjoyed social events and his jovial nature would shine through. Shortly before Justice Thomas joined the Bench, he was invited by the Government of Grenada to serve as the Executive Director of the Grenada International Financial Services Authority. Upon retirement from the Bench, Justice Thomas continued to serve the OECS region as a Legal Consultant to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda.
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and the OECS region are poorer for his passing, and he will be missed in immeasurable ways. We will however continue to reflect on his impact and focus on his generosity of spirit and what he meant to so many persons within and outside the judiciary.
On behalf of the Judiciary and Staff of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and on my own behalf, I offer heartfelt condolences and gratitude to his children and other relatives, colleagues, and friends. May he live on in our hearts and the hearts of all those who loved him.
May his soul rest in peace.
Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE, LL.D.