The following are tributes to Hugh Arthur Selby Wooding QC who passed away on October 12 at 91.
Michael de la Bastide QC, former president of the Caribbean Court of Justice and Chief Justice of TT:
Selby Wooding’s death marks the passing of an era for me because I knew Selby from my first days of practice in TT as I returned in 1961.
When I went into Malcolm Butt’s Chambers we were his neighbour because he had Chambers in the same building at 17 St Vincent Street which was destroyed by fire at the end of the 1960s. We did a quite a lot of cases together sometimes under the leadership of Pope Wharton and I benefitted greatly from having both Selby and Pope as my guides and mentors. The three of us, together with sometimes Ewart Thorne and Telford Georges, would write lettters to the editor on issues that were engaging the public attention at the time and hopefully they served to focus people’s thinking on the real issues and to provide what we hoped would be the correct course to take.
Selby was a patron of the Arts apart from being a outstanding advocate. He gave a lot of support to institutions like the Little Carib Theatre and the Queen’s Hall. He loved the Arts. He was in that respect a well-rounded person. He was a very cultured person and I never knew him to harbour any form of a grudge or to bad-talk anyone. It was not his style. He was one who one might describe as a proper gentleman. I remember our sitting in the Industrial Court waiting for a case to resume and he said to me that he had just become 40 years old and he felt as though it was like crossing the rubicon that he had passed a significant landmark that we would not see again.
And I remember saying that I have not crossed the rubicon as yet but I was approaching it. I don’t think either of us at the time anticipated that we would spend some 50 years or more on the far side of the rubicon. He had many of the qualities and talents of his illustrious father and I learnt a lot from him. In fact, he was like a big brother to me in the profession and I shall be ever grateful to him for his friendship and his guidance and I express my deep sympathy to his surviving brother, Henley, and sister and the other members of his family.
Reginald Armour SC:
The news of the passing of Selby Wooding QC (“Selby”) found me in a profound place. Even before the very powerful tribute so eloquently delivered by Ian Benjamin SC at his funeral on Friday 15th October, even before I was privileged to receive a call from his nephew, Stephen, inviting me to the very small covid19-constrained funeral, I had determined to say something in tribute to Selby, my first head of Chambers, a powerfully influential mentor and, an elder who was my friend. I am writing that tribute now to a scholar and a gentleman who brought so much to the Law, the Arts, theatre and literature.
Ian’s tribute cannot be bettered so I necessarily pay homage to a superb exhibition of research, advocacy and, caring. That tribute was content rich, delivered with no platitudes, ample and celebrated the essence of Selby. As he completed and stepped away to give space to Father Gomez at the podium, I heardSeb Selby’s single smiling clap: Bravo!
I considered it a unique privilege to have been invited by Selby to join his Chambers at 75 Abercrombie Street in those remarkable early years of the 1980s, with Trevor Lee SC, Mervyn Campell, Fyard Hosein SC and Maurice Haynes. From there I grew under his professional guidance, from a fledgling young barrister then, to be able today – with modest pride – to acknowledge Selby’s influence in large measure on my professional growth: His was the stamp of excellence, intellectual rigour and, a style of advocacy unique for its persuasiveness, its wit and its effectiveness.
After the Chambers was partly burnt, Selby retired and dedicated himself to his passion for the Arts and in particular, the Beryl McBurnie Foundation. Unknown to me he had arranged for what turned out for me to be another pivotally significant stage in my professional life, that of joining the Chambers of Allan Alexander SC and Frank Solomon SC, under the leadership then of Pope Wharton QC. Only last year Selby came home for dinner; I still hear his ringing boisterous laugh as he continued to embrace life.
Israel B Rajah-Khan SC
Selby Wooding QC, was a scholar and a gentleman and throughout his career he commanded the respect of all lawyers in the profession – be they barristers or solicitors.
In the early 80’s he was the President of the Bar Association and I recall his hosting in those days wine and cheese parties with a small gathering of barristers in the courtyard of his home which was located at the corner of Richmond and Duke Streets. That lovely gingerbread house with his name plate on the front pillar still stands.
The passing of Selby Wooding QC, reminds us that the great advocates of the years gone by are no more: Karl Hudson Phillips QC, Ewart Thorne QC, Theodore Guerra SC, Desmond Allum SC, Allan Alexander QC, Gaston Johnson QC, Mitra Sinanan QC, Aeneas Wills SC, Trevor Lee QC. Rest in peace, dear Senior.
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