Joint tribute of OCCBA and the OECS Bar Association to Grenada’s first female Queens Counsel Celia Edwards who passed away on 28 April 2022 and will be laid to rest on 12 May 2022.
The Organisation of Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Associations (OCCBA) and the OECS Bar Association join with our colleagues at the Grenada Bar to mourn the untimely passing (28 April) of Celia Clyne-Edwards QC, a passionate advocate, genuine patriot, true trailblazer and virtual powerhouse of the legal profession. We also celebrate the life of this accomplished and distinguished colleague who spent 38 prolific years at the Bar expertly balancing the responsibilities of being a mother of 4, rendering public service, and battling robustly on behalf of her clients. She bade goodbye on 28 April 2022 at the age of 65.
A 1974 Grenada Island Scholar, and the first female from Grenada to be adorned with that prestigious label, Celia ultimately followed in the footsteps of her father, George E D Clyne, a high-profile lawyer and noted advocate. She was admitted to the Grenada Bar in January 1984 after pursuing and obtaining her law degree from the University of the West Indies (UWI) and her Legal Education Certificate (LEC) from the Hugh Wooding Law School (HWLS).
Excellent example to her children
In turn, Celia nurtured and provided excellent example and guidance to 2 of her children – Deloni and Celene – and to her nephew, Zuriel Francique, all of whom graduated, like herself, from UWI and the HWLS and joined her at the Law Office of G E D Clyne which she established and became principal of in 1985.
In 1984, Celia entered a male-dominated profession, both at the Bar and Bench. For several years she was among a handful of women serving the profession. She was never deterred, and not just survived, but excelled and warmly embraced her male colleagues. Gradually, and later radically, the gender composition changed – particularly in more recent years – to one of female dominance reflecting the trend, not just in Grenada, but throughout the Caribbean.
Amidst her hectic professional life at the Bar, she still found time, at varying periods to serve as Chairman of the Public Service Board of Appeal, President of the Rotary Club of Grenada and on several statutory bodies. She symbolised service.
Actively supported local Bar
Celia once served as Vice-President of the Grenada Bar Association. Throughout her professional life she actively supported the Bar: paying her dues, participating in meetings, attending seminars, making contributions to charity and other worthy causes, and readily making her home available for social activities of the Bar. Dependable and dedicated, she led by example, never shunning away from her responsibilities. She was up front and centre in the 2005 historic protest of the Bar over the then choice of Attorney-General, marching through the streets of St George’s with her colleagues.
Embracing OECS Bar and OCCBA
A true regionalist, Celia gave full support to the OECS Bar Association and OCCBA. As a proud, ‘homegrown product’ of our regional university and law school, she understood the importance of regional integration and organization. She ensured that, if not herself, members of her firm participated in the many continuing legal education programmes of OCCBA and the OECS Bar. Such participation was not reserved to the Grenada based programmes. One remembers her attendance at the 2006 Law Conference of the OECS Bar Association in Anguilla and Deloni’s presence at the 2019 Law Summit of OCCBA in Trinidad. Morever, her firm gave consistent support to and participated in the many virtual continuing legal education sessions of OCCBA and the OECS Bar over the past 2 years of Covid-19 challenges.
Trailblazer and formidable advocate
As a trailblazer, Celia’s appointment as Queens Counsel in 2008 came as no surprise and was widely acknowledged and supported, locally and regionally. It was yet another first – this time the first Grenadian female to be accorded that honour. Over the years she had proven herself to be a formidable advocate, who was deeply passionate about the law, and always ready to vigorously and energetically advance the interests of her clients.
Celia practiced at all levels of the court, including the Privy Council, and was well respected by colleagues and judges alike. Significant cases in which she was involved, and which eventually reached the Privy Council, include Sharon Otway (personal representative of the Estate of Thomas Otway, deceased) & Another v Jean Gibbs (2000) UKPC 39 (right of common-law spouse to assets of deceased); Dipcon Engineering Services v Gregory Bowen & the Attorney-General of Grenada (2004) UKPC 18 (Setting aside default judgments); and Janin Caribbean Construction Ltd v Wilkinson & Anr (2016) UKPC 26 (liability of an Attorney holding papers). In the latter case (Janin), she personally and successfully led the Respondents’ team at the Privy Council.
OCCBA and the OECS Bar extend deepest sympathy to the family of Celia, the staff of the Law Office of G E D Clyne, our colleagues at the Grenada Bar, and all whom she impacted during her enriching and productive journey on this earth. She broke barriers, blazed the trail for many women, helped shape our jurisprudence, and leaves an enduring legacy of hard work, discipline, determination, fighting spirit, and unwavering support for local and regional Bars.
May our colleague sister rest in eternal peace!
Ruggles Ferguson, President OCCBA
Jean Dyer, President OECS Bar Association