Sir David Anthony Cathcart Simmons, KA, BCH, QC, LLM (Lond.), Hon. LLD (Lond.), Hon. LLD (UWI)
Former Chief Justice of Barbados
Sir David Anthony Cathcart Simmons, K.A., B.C.H., Q.C., LL.M. (Lond.), Hon. LL.D (Lond.), assumed office as the 12th Chief Justice of Barbados on 1 January 2002. He succeeded Sir Denys Williams, after stepping down as Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs in 2001.
Early life and education
David Anthony Cathcart Simmons was born in Barbados on 28 April 1940 to Kenneth and Sybil Simmons. He received his secondary education at the Lodge School, Barbados. Between 1960 and 1965 he studied Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, graduating in 1963, with the LLB. (Hons.) degree and in 1965, the Master of Laws degree (LLM).
After lecturing in law in London until 1970, he returned to Barbados and joined the Law Chambers of Mr. Henry Forde, Q.C. Between 1970 and 1975, Sir David lectured part-time in law at the University of the West Indies.
Sir David has had an outstanding career as a lawyer in Barbados and was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1984 in shorter time than anyone else in the legal history of Barbados. Among the highlights of his practice as an attorney-at-law are his successful representation of clients in 32 of 33 murder cases and his success in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the first civil appeal from Barbados in 30 years to that body in 1982 in the case Elias v. Sahely.
From 1976 he served continuously for 25 years in the Parliament of Barbados. In 2001, he retired from active politics. Appointed twice as Attorney-General of Barbados, first, from 1985 to 1986 and from 1994 to 2001, he reformed and modernized the laws of Barbados in a wide variety of areas; represented Barbados at regional and international fora and has published widely. Sir David also acted as Prime Minister of Barbados on many occasions between 1994 and 2000.
During his tenure as Attorney-General, Sir David modernised the several statues relating to Intellectual Property to ensure that Barbados’ laws complied with international requirements. Prominent among such legislation was a new Copyright Act in 1998.
As Attorney-General, Sir David presided over many initiatives and conferences including being Chairman of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (1997/98); Chairman of the EU/Caribbean Conference which developed the "Barbados Plan of Action" (1996); Chairman of the Joint US/Caribbean Sub-Committee which developed a Plan of Action on Justice and Security issues, signed by President Clinton and Caribbean Heads (1997); Chairman of the Regional Committee for the establishment of a Maritime Cooperation Against the Traffic in Illicit Narcotic Drugs in the Caribbean project (1999-2002); Chairman of the Preparatory Committee to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (1999-2001); first Chairman of the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (2003-2004); Chairman of the High Level Task Force to supervise the inauguration of the Caribbean Court of Justice (2004-2005).
Sir David is a man of many interests outside the law. He has produced calypso records and judged and commentated on calypso competitions. It is believed that he has the most extensive private collection of calypso music in Barbados dating back to 1924. He is a trumpet player. For 9 years, he played trumpet in a band in London led by Ivan Chin and he has played alongside Troubadours International, the Royal Barbados Police Force Band, and with outstanding Trinidadian musicians, Ralph Davies and Errol Ince.
In 2000, Sir David took the bold initiative to pass legislation in Barbados making it compulsory for radio stations to have 60% of broadcast material local and regional. Sir David also has a deep and abiding interest in sport. He held the national record for 100 yards in 1960; he was called to cricket trials and was twelfth man for Barbados Colts v. British Guiana (as it then was) in January 1959. He wrote Charlie Griffith’s biography “Chucked Around” in 1970; formed the West Indies Players’ Association and, as recently as 2008, he arbitrated disputes between the West Indies Cricket Board and the Players’ Association. For many years he raced horses in Barbados and is currently chairman of the Appellate Stewards of the Barbados Turf Club.
Honours and awards
In 2001, for his contribution to public service, law and politics, he was awarded the Barbados Centennial Honour (BCH), and Barbados' highest national honour, Knight of St. Andrew (KA).
In 2003, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the UWI and was also awarded the Honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) by the University of London - the first Caribbean person to be accorded that high distinction by that University.
In 2006, Sir David was elected as an Honorary Bencher of the Honorable Society of Lincoln's Inn, the Inn of Court at which he qualified as a Barrister-at-Law.
On 17 October 2015, Sir David was conferred with the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) by the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies in recognition of his outstanding legal career.
Sir David Simmons is married to former High Court Judge, Madam Justice Marie MacCormack, the first woman to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Barbados. They have two children, Gavin and Lynne-Marie.
His siblings include: brothers, former Barbados High Commissioner to the UK, the late Peter Simmons; hotelier Robin Simmons and Phil; as well as sister Janette Greaves, a retired businesswoman.