The Right Honourable Philip Telford Georges, OCC, DAH
Former Chief Justice of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas
As one of the Caribbean's most respected legal luminaries, Professor Philip Telford Georges of Dominica boasted a brilliant career in the legal field serving the Region as a Judge of the High Court and Acting Justice of Appeal of Trinidad and Tobago and Chief Justice of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
Early life and education
Philip Telford Georges was born in Roseau, Dominica on 5 January 1923, the son of Milutine Cox and John Henry Duport Georges. He attended the Roseau Boys School where his father was the headmaster and won a scholarship to the Dominica Grammar School at age 9. At the Grammar School, the young Telford came under the influence of Mr. N. K. Jeffers who stimulated his interest in English and History, which were to remain his lifelong passions. Outside of school he roamed the Botanical Gardens and the Morne as young boys are wont to do even today.
Telford was both a brilliant scholar and hardworking student, and won the Dominica Island Scholarship in 1940. He proceeded to Mc Gill University, Canada in 1942 to read English and History, but after a year he switched to law at the University of Toronto. He was an active member of his college community. He represented the University at inter-varsity debates, was President of the Law Society and an active member of the Historical society, as well as Speaker of his college mock Parliament. And then he proceeded to graduate with First Class Honors and at the top of his class, for which he was awarded the Gold Medal and an inscription on a plaque at the University.
After graduation in 1947, Telford was called to the Trinidad bar. As a public defender, his erudition and integrity, and his high regard for the law, earned him the esteem and respect of his colleagues. His outstanding legal talent and concern for justice and fairness were now widely recognized and he was invited in 1962, at the relatively young age of 39, to be a judge on the Trinidad Bench. There he also earned the high regard of the attorneys as well as the litigants who appeared before him.
Serving across the Region in various capacities including appointments as Justice of Appeal in the Courts of Belize, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, Justice Georges epitomised regionalism.
Trinidad and Tobago for the next thirteen years. He was then elevated to a Judgeship of the High Court in Trinidad, and in 1962 was invited to serve as Chief Justice of Tanzania. He held this position for seven years, and then returned to serve as Professor of Law and, ultimately, Dean of the Faculty of Law at Cave Hill. In the 1970's Justice Georges served as Chief Justice of Zimbabwe, and then returned to the Caribbean to serve as the Chief Justice of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas from 1984 to 1989. In 1989, he was appointed a Member of Her Majesty’s Privy Council. He was also bestowed with numerous awards and honours, and served on numerous commissions and in many other jurisdictions as a part-time judge.
Honours and awards
Chief Justice Georges’ outstanding contribution to the Caribbean and internationally was recognized with honorary doctorates from several Universities, including Toronto, Tanzania, and the West Indies. He also received the Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC, 1994) and the Dominica Award of Honor (DAH), the highest Dominican award. As a committed West Indian he prized these last two honors above all.
Philip Telford Georges died on 13 January 2005, aged 82.