The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (“ECSC”) mourns the passing of Her Ladyship,
the Hon. Dame Monica Joseph, CBE, DBE, Retired High Court Judge, who died on
Thursday, 6 th July 2023.
Born in the Spice Isle of Grenada, Dame Monica Joseph was called to the Bar in
November 1966 at Lincoln’s Inn in the United Kingdom. Throughout her life, Dame
Monica had an impressive legal career. After being called to the Bar, she worked in the
Ministry of External Affairs in the Premier’s Office (as it was then called) in Grenada.
Her passion for practising law, however, motivated her to migrate to the sister island of
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in 1972 to seek further legal experience. She was
soon appointed as a Legal Assistant in the Attorney General’s Chambers in Saint
Vincent and the Grenadines and quickly advanced to the positions of Crown Counsel,
Senior Crown Counsel, Director of Public Prosecutions, and Solicitor General. She held
the distinction of serving in the two latter positions simultaneously until her appointment
to the ECSC Bench.
In the earlier years of the ECSC, judges did not apply for an appointment to the Bench
but were invited and then selected. No doubt, it was Dame Monica Joseph’s vast
experience in both civil and criminal law that led to her appointment as a judge of the
High Court in February 1982 – breaking the glass ceiling by becoming the first woman
to be appointed to the ECSC Bench.
Upon her appointment to the Bench, Dame Monica Joseph was assigned as resident
judge of the Territory of the Virgin Islands. She was the first resident judge for the
Virgin Islands although at that time, the island of Anguilla was also served by her. Later,
she was assigned to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where she served for the
majority of her tenure as a High Court Judge. In 1991, Dame Monica was called upon
to act as a Justice of Appeal for a year. At that time, she broke the glass ceiling once
again by becoming the first woman to serve on the ECSC Court of Appeal. She also did
many shorter acting stints on the Court of Appeal in the following years until her
retirement in January 1996.
After her retirement, Dame Monica Joseph continued to give yeoman service and was
appointed to act as High Court Judge in 2008. Once again, she was assigned to Saint
Vincent and Grenadines. Dame Monica eventually ended her service with the ECSC in
Dame Monica Joseph will be remembered as an esteemed judge renowned for her
precision, integrity, and unwavering commitment to justice. She was widely recognised
as a fair and fearless judge who gave her all to ensure that justice was done. Her
decisions were meticulously crafted and reflected her dedication to upholding the rule of
law and concern for the welfare of all citizens.
In addition to her remarkable contributions as a judge, Dame Monica also gave service
in other fields. She actively participated on various Boards and served as a District
Commissioner and Guider with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Girl Guides
Association. She also served as Chairman of the Public Service Commission and
Integrity Commission in Grenada, acted as Governor-General when necessary, and
was a dedicated Roman Catholic. She was also the President of the Grenada Netball
Association from 1997 to 2004.
Dame Monica Joseph was recognised with numerous accolades throughout her career.
She was awarded the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
(CBE) in June 1997, followed by an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University
of the West Indies in 2003. Her exceptional accomplishments were further
acknowledged with the prestigious honour of Dame Commander in the Order of the
British Empire (DBE) in 2013.
Dame Monica Joseph’s contribution to the judiciary of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme
Court is lauded. She has an esteemed place in the history of our Court, and in our
hearts. We will forever be grateful for her sterling service to the people of our region.
On behalf of the judicial officers, management and staff of the Eastern Caribbean
Supreme Court, the people of Grenada and the OECS, and on my own behalf, I extend
my deepest condolences to her family, friends and loved ones.
May her soul rest in peace.
Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE, LL.D