Seldom has an appointment been received with such unanimity! A rarity in a country which seems to thrive on the destruction of others, a country where “it should have been me” is more often the refrain than is “congratulations, well done!”
But Peter Irvin Foster has never been one to dwell on the perceptions of others. He has long been his own man, a lawyer who goes the extra mile to ensure the proper representation of his clients, a meticulous man to be sure. From as early as his days at St. Mary’s College Peter always wanted to be a lawyer, an ambition no doubt spurred on by his legendary father’s success in the field. Several of Kenneth Foster’s children would enter the legal field—in fact no Saint Lucian family has produced as many lawyers—but it would be Peter who would be the standout.
Called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn in London, England and in Castries, Saint Lucia, in 1983, Peter has practiced here continuously ever since and heads of one of the largest and leading law firms in the country which he established 1988. While he primarily specializes in corporate and civil matters he has not shied away from the criminal law. Peter is especially well-known for his prowess in defamation and libel matters where he has recorded several successes. His numerous defenses of STAR publisher, Rick Wayne, are generally considered essential reading.
In 1992, Peter was involved in a case which remains the leading authority on negligence in Saint Lucia. In that case The Right Hon Sir Vincent Floissac, writing for a unanimous court, stated: “Where the cause of action is negligence, the plaintiff must prove by reference to the English Law of negligence and English rules of evidence (1) that the defendant owed a duty to take care (2) that the defendant was negligent or in breach of that duty and (3) that the damage suffered by the plaintiff was caused by that negligence or breach of duty.”
The Court of Appeal further held that all three elements must all be present at the same time.
Peter was involved in another landmark decision where a newspaper published an article relating to the passing of a mother and child. The newspaper alleged that the child had contracted HIV from the mother and sought to support its contention by publishing the mother’s death certificate. Peter, representing the deceased woman’s partner, successfully argued before the court that the manner of the article would draw an inference from the reading public that the mother contracted the disease from the said male partner and that he was, therefore, himself HIV positive. That decision established that it is possible to defame someone by association.
Peter also argued that the publication of the death certificate amounted to a breach of confidence as the newspaper had obtained the dead mother’s medical records without his client’s authorization. The court concurred!
More recently, Peter was part of the legal team which convinced the court that the government had acted unlawfully in the manner of its transfer of a commissioner of police.
Peter credits all of his success to his father Kenneth, in whose firm he was first employed after being called to the bar. According to the younger Foster: “My dad taught me everything. He taught me to represent every client honestly, faithfully and without fear or favor.” Foster continued: “Dad told me that I would get out of the profession only what I put into it. So I have worked very hard, always mindful of my dad’s words that over time and with continuous investment in it, I would be rewarded.”
Over the past twenty-eight years Peter has acted as a temporary Magistrate and more recently as a judge of the OECS Supreme Court.
Passionate as he is about the law, he hardly limits his schedule to its practice. Peter is a former Chairman of the Castries City Corporation as well as a past Chairman of the Council of the St. Lucia Bureau of Standards and Director of St. Lucia Electricity Services Company. He was also the Chairman of the utility company’s Governance Committee. A fitness enthusiast he has twice participated in the New York marathon.
On January 6, 2012, Peter was elected to serve as Speaker of Saint Lucia’s House of Assembly and earlier this month he was appointed one of Her Majesty’s Queen’s Counsel. That appointment made it only the third time in our legal history that both father and son have attained this high honor.
The STAR joins with the rest of the nation in congratulating the Hon. Peter Irvin Foster QC.