The sudden passing of Sir Fenton Ramsahoye, QC, who pioneered constitutional developments in the Caribbean through legal victories at the Privy Council, has sent shock waves throughout the legal fraternity in the region.
Guyana-born Ramsahoye, 89, died at Queen’s Elizabeth Hospital in Barbados.
Ramsahoye, who was at the forefront of the independence movement, studied at London University where he was awarded a BA. in 1949 and LL.B., LLM in 1953 and 1956 and was called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn in February 1953. He was awarded a PhD in Comparative Land Law from London School of Economics and Political Science in 1959.
In 1961, he was elected a Member of Parliament of Guyana and remained in parliament until 1973.He was Attorney General of Guyana from 1961 to 1964 and a member of Board of Governors of University of Guyana from 1962 to 1964.
Ramsahoye was appointed Senior Counsel in Guyana in 1971. From 1972 to 1975 he was Deputy Director of Legal Education for the Council of Legal Education in the West Indies and head of Hugh Wooding Law School as a professor.
Having served the Bars of England and Wales, Guyana, Barbados, T&T, Jamaica, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands, he held the distinction of being the legal luminary that made the most appearances before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
In 2006, he was knighted by Governor General of Antigua Sir James Carlisle.
Among those paying tribute yesterday was former attorney general Anand Ramlogan, SC, who said in a statement that Ramsahoye’s death was a personal loss to him.
Ramlogan described Ramsahoye as the quintessential advocate who would be remembered for representing the poor and vulnerable.
Ramlogan said Ramsahoye was successful in cases in personal injury, discrimination and human rights cases and was involved in the matter of compensation for breach of human rights and payment of salaries for MPs during the 18/18 tie brought by former MP Chandresh Sharma.
Pamela Elder, SC, who was unaware of Ramsahoye’s passing, was lost for words. Israel Khan, SC, said Ramsahoye, the first principal of the Hugh Wooding Law School, believed in Caribbean integration and “did a lot for the young lawyers.”
Also expressing deep sorrow at Ramsahoye’s passing were former Guyana House Speaker Ralph Ramkarran and Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne.