St Lucia contemplates becoming a tax haven for magistrates

Reports from St Lucia indicate that the island’s Government is contemplating offering tax-free salaries as an incentive to fill vacancies for magistrates.

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has admitted that St Lucia is experiencing difficulties recruiting magistrates due to the relatively high cost of living on the island and the fact that it is unable to match the salaries paid to magistrates elsewhere in the Caribbean.

Chastanet told reporters that magistrates are not prepared to leave other parts of the Caribbean to work in St Lucia and other parts of the Windward Islands.

This is not a new issue. St Lucia’s National Security Minister, Hermangild Francis, admitted in 2017 that the island needed four additional magistrates and that remuneration was an issue in attracting the right candidates.

While we welcome the moves that St Lucia is taking steps to strengthen its criminal justice system (a number of which are referenced in this article) it is clear that the island needs to do more to address the shortage of suitably qualified magistrates.

Candidates for magistrate positions in St Lucia require law degrees, legal education certificates, a minimum of four or five years of legal experience, as well as expert knowledge of St Lucian law.

Changing the tax rules may help attract some candidates from other islands, and this move could be a viable short term fix. What is clear, however, is that the island needs to do more to ensure that there are enough suitably qualified home grown candidates for the future, and that young people with an interest in the law feel as though St Lucia is a place for them to build a career.

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