A Century of Change
When W.E.S. Callender hung out his shingle in 1903, Nassau was a small, bustling seaport with a need for lawyers to handle a growing number of contracts. Commerce was booming and Callender was a busy man. He penned deeds, contracts and amendments by hand, delivered them on foot. A handshake was as good as a signature. Working late meant burning kerosene lanterns. Without telephones, communication was face-to-face.
In the years that immediately followed, as the young lawyer’s reputation spread, the Firm grew, taking on a new partner and broadening its resources. Many of the cases it handled set precedent in the jurisdiction. In trial work, W.E.A. Callender appeared as co-counsel with the late Hon. Godfrey Higgs in the 1944 trial of Alfred de Marigny, charged with the murder of the man thought to be the wealthiest citizen in the British Empire, Sir Harry Oakes. This case was the subject of international press attention. Due to the skill and advocacy of the defense team, the accused, the victim’s son-in-law, was acquitted of all charges. That case consolidated the Firm’s presence in The Bahamas and also gave recognition to its presence abroad.
Callenders & Co. has participated in the winding up of major insolvency cases with international implications including IOS Limited and Banco Ambrosiano Overseas Limited, and more recently, Olympus Univest Limited and the Northshield Group, in which the Firm was appointed attorneys and counsel to the Official Liquidators. In addition the Firm has been involved in major international trust litigation stemming from the status of The Bahamas as an offshore financial center. The Firm has also handled numerous domestic insolvencies. Several of its cases have led to decisions that stand as legal landmarks (especially those which were the subject matters of appeals to the Privy Council) and are cited in law journals, online or on the Firm’s website.
Callenders & Co. is The Bahamas’ only law firm with a history that stretches from the beginning of one century to the start of the next, adapting to changing business environments, legal framework and available technological and human resources. “Today, we rely on the internet; we access case history and precedent online as well as poring over the printed page. We consult with counsel thousands of miles away with the same ease as conversing with an attorney across the hall. We meet with clients from around the globe and whether we go to them or they come to us, the time it takes to cross continents is less than the time it used to take to go by steamship from Nassau to Miami. We travel across time and never stop to think that the first American to use a passport did so in 1914. W.E.S. Callender, who was later appointed the Court’s highest honour, Queen’s Counsel, had been practicing law for nine years by that time.”
The Firm has stood at the forefront of major constitutional cases involving human rights and the limits of police and governmental powers in which complex issues of law have been determined.
The Firm has acted as attorneys and counsel for the Grand Bahama Port Authority Limited.
A Look Ahead
Methods, protocols and procedures change with the times. While the tradition of adorning wigs and gowns in Court continues, it does so alongside and in contrast to a new world of information behind the scenes.
Callenders & Co. has been at the forefront of using technology to cut through complexities, reduce red tape and increase efficiency. But there is one thing that will not change: its commitment to excellence through personal service to every client.
The same sense of family that created the environment in which the Firm operates is evidenced on a day-to-day basis with clients and associates. Telephone calls and e-mails are returned without delay; counsel is given carefully and prudently often after collaborative efforts; strictest standards of confidentiality apply. Every attorney in the Firm, whether specializing in real estate and mortgaging, ship registration, commercial contract, financial services, company or financial institution incorporation, will, estate and trust services, or in our fully staffed litigation department, maintains that same commitment to excellence through:
Timely and Thorough Research and Documentation Delivery
Personal Professional Attention