History of JamBar

 … The independence of the legal profession constitutes an essential guarantee for the promotion and protection of human rights and is necessary for effective and adequate access to legal services…  (IBA Standards for the Independence of the Legal Profession, 1990).

The Jamaican Bar Association (JAMBAR) was incorporated as a Company Limited by Guarantee on Tuesday, January 16th 1973. JAMBAR is a voluntary organisation for attorneys-at-law in Jamaica. For forty years the important mandates and objectives of JAMBAR have been undertaken with the intent of remaining relevant and impactful.


The objectives of the Jamaican Bar Association are to:

  • Strive for the maintenance and strengthening of the Rule of Law and Human Rights;
  • Protect the independence of Judges and Attorneys-at-Law;
  • Work towards law reform and the improvement of our legal system;
  • Offer service to our system of justice and to those in need or our aid and protection;
  • Foster basic and continuing legal education; and
  • Promote the integrity and good name of the legal profession in Jamaica.


The Association is administered by a Council comprising a President, Vice- President, Immediate Past President (where appropriate) and twenty (20) Council members. The Executive of Council comprises the President, The Vice-President, The Hon. Treasurer, The Hon. Secretary, The Assistant Treasurer and the Assistant Secretary. The three (3) Regional Bar Associations may have one observer each on Council.


With the fusion of the legal profession there was no longer a need for separate representative bodies for barristers and solicitors. Accordingly, the respective affairs of the Law Society of Jamaica and the Bar Association were wound up, and JAMBAR was incorporated to represent the affairs of both branches of the profession. The first registered office of JAMBAR was situated at 11 Duke Street, and since 25th January, 2001 was re-located to its present location at 78-80 Harbour Street.

In 1973, the first directors of JAMBAR were Ramon Alberga, Bruce Barker, The Hon Dr Lloyd Barnett, OJ, Cedric Barton, Gefrard Bourke, James Bovell, Douglas Brandon, Keith Burke, Dennis Daly, George Desnoes, Adolph Edwards, Horace Edwards, Noel Edwards, Ewart Forrest, Norman Hill, QC, Douglas Judah, Hon Shirley Miller, OJ, QC, Hon David Muirhead, OJ, Frank Myers, Hon Carl Rattray, OJ, Hon Leacroft Robinson, OJ; and Lt. Col H. St. Whitehorne, OD, MBE, JP.


JAMBAR is administered through a council comprising 20 elected representatives including the executive members, namely, the president, vice-president, secretary, assistant secretary, treasurer and assistant treasurer. The council meets monthly, and there is also a monthly meeting of the executive members.  There are sub-committees including those of the continuing legal education; social affairs and outreach; commercial, conveyancing, criminal practice and procedures; and civil practice and procedure and family law.  These sub-committees assist JAMBAR in achieving its goals and objectives.

Membership is open to all persons who are licensed to practise as attorneys-at-law in Jamaica and who are of sound character. The applicants must be at least 21 years old, citizens of the Commonwealth, have no criminal convictions, have satisfied the General Legal Council that they are of sound character, possess the bachelor’s degree in law from a recognised tertiary institution,  and possess the legal education certificate from the Council of Legal Education through one of the three law schools in the Commonwealth Caribbean.
Applications for membership to JAMBAR must be submitted to the JAMBAR council for consideration.  More recently, JAMBAR has opened its doors to students enrolled at the Norman Manley Law School or any law schools established by the Council of Legal Education, to become affiliates. The Association is served by a professional staff at the registered office which presently comprises a general manager and three other permanently employed members.

– Donovan C. Walker