Winston Francis Cenac, QC
Former Prime Minister of St. Lucia
Winston Francis Cenac was the third elected Prime Minister of Saint Lucia.
Early life and education
Winston Francis Cenac was born on 14 September 1925. He was educated at the St. Mary’s College, Saint Lucia, where he obtained the Cambridge School Certificate and the London Matriculation. In 1952 he obtained the degree of Bachelor of Laws of London University as an external student.
Shortly after leaving St. Mary’s College, he entered the Public Service of Saint Lucia as a Clerical Officer and was appointed to the office of Chief Clerk of the First District Court, and then later in 1952, as Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court of Saint Lucia.
In 1957, he was called to the Bar of England at Lincoln’s Inn, London, England and in the same year was appointed to the office of Registrar of the Supreme Court of Saint Lucia.
In 1958 he was appointed to the Office of Magistrate of the Southern Judicial District of Saint Lucia and in 1959, to the office of Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court of the Wind ward Islands and the Leeward Island, whose office was then situated in St. George’s, Grenada.
In 1962 he was appointed to the office of Attorney-General of Saint Lucia which included the office of Director of Public Prosecutions and that of membership of the Cabinet of Ministers, and nomination as a member of the House of Assembly of Saint Lucia. In 1964 he was transferred to the office of Attorney-General of St. Vincent, which included appointment as Director of Public Prosecutions of that island and as a member of its Cabinet of Ministers and as a nominated Member of Parliament.
In 1966, he was transferred to the office of Attorney-General of Grenada, which included appointments as Director of Public Prosecutions of that island and as a member of its Cabinet of Ministers and as a nominated member of its Parliament.
During his tenure of office as Attorney-General of St. Vincent, he was a Delegate and a Legal Adviser of the Government of St. Vincent at the Constitutional Conference at Marl borough House in London in 1965, on the grant of self-Government to St. Vincent. While holding the office of Attorney-General of Saint Lucia, he acted as Legal Adviser to the Government of Saint Lucia at the Little Eight Conference held in Barbados, aimed at establishing a federation of Barbados and the Windward and Leeward Islands.
In 1967, while he held the office of Attorney-General of Grenada, that Island was granted its Statehood by Britain. As a result, he was granted the option, either of remaining as a member of the Judicial and Legal Service of the Eastern Caribbean or to proceed on retirement on payment of gratuity and on pension terms. He opted to take the later alternative, and after a short period of work as Director of Public Prosecutions of Grenada he proceeded to Saint Lucia in 1969, where he entered into private practise.
While in private practise in Saint Lucia, he accepted temporary appointment as a Judge of the High Courts of St. Vincent and of Antigua in 1971. He took up the office of Acting Judge if St. Kitts, Nevis and of the Virgin Islands in 1972. He then returned to private practise in Saint Lucia in 1973, and during that time was appointed to the rank of Queen’s Counsel.
In 1978, shortly before Saint Lucia’s independence in 1979, he was appointed by the Governor-General as a Senator of the House of Parliament of Saint Lucia. In 1979, he was elected a member of the House of Assembly of Saint Lucia for the Constituency of Soufriere and was appointed Attorney-General of Saint Lucia for a second time, which said office he held from 1979-1980.
In 1981, he was elected Prime Minister of Saint Lucia and held that office until he resigned in 1982, when he re turned to private practise.
During his return to private practise, he was elected President of the Saint Lucia Bar Association and held that office from 1989-1995. He also held the office of Chairman of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Bar Association from 1989-1994.
He is a life-member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. In 1988, he published a book en titled “COUTUME de PARIS” the Evolution of Land Law in Saint Lucia. This book has been prescribed for reading by law students at the University of the West Indies and reference has been made to it in decisions of the Courts in Saint Lucia.
His practise during the last 16 years of his life was largely on the Civil side of the law in relation to such subjects as the partition of land, title to land by succession, mortgages and charges over land, transfers of land, and Bills of Sale. Constitutional Law matters, such as the rights of Public Officers and Public Employees also usually fall within the ambit of his practise. The Criminal Law is the only legal field which he does not now practise in. However, he practiced extensively as a Criminal Lawyer while holding his various public offices. Overall, it can be said that his knowledge and experience in the law is of a general nature.
In 1998, he was made a Life-Member of the Executive Council of the Bar Association of Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.
He had one son, Earl Cenac, who was born to him on the 30 September, 1947. He married his wife, Flora Cenac (born Jn Baptiste) on 1 March, 1950.
Winston Francis Cenac died on 22 September 2004, aged 79. He was buried on Thursday, 30 September 2004 at Choc Cemetery.