04 Feb 2014

MILE Alumni Profile: Michelle Brown

Michelle Brown, a graduate of MILE 9, says the course gave her a greater understanding of international trade issues that is now proving very useful in her legal career. Michelle recently won a case that established legal precedent in the Caribbean.

Where are you currently working and in what capacity?

I am currently the Managing Partner of Brown and Associates, a boutique law firm focusing on commercial and international trade law matters. I am also a Commissioner at the Jamaica Anti-Dumping and Subsidies Commission and the Associate Editor of the Trade Law Guide.


Can you tell us about your success in a landmark case against the state of Barbados.

Yes, I was engaged as lead counsel in a case, Shanique Myrie v the State of Barbados, against the State of Barbados in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), sitting in its original jurisdiction. The case involved the denial of entry of a CARICOM national into Barbados in violation of the limited free movement regime established under the treaty. The claimant alleged that, in addition to being denied entry, she was treated in a discriminatory manner solely because of her nationality, by border officials, in breach of her right of non-discrimination under the treaty.  She also claimed that various aspects of her human rights were breached by the border officials, including not being allowed representation, being subjected to inhumane treatment and being forced to endure a painful and humiliating body cavity search.


This has been heralded as a landmark case in the region for a number of reasons.  The claimant was the first individual to be granted leave of the court to bring suit before it, in its original jurisdiction.  It was also the first case in which the itinerant court moved from its seat in Trinidad and Tobago to sit in both the State of Barbados and the State of Jamaica.  This move was at the instance of the claimant.  The court found for the claimant that her right of entry was in fact breached and she was awarded damages for that breach. In its ruling, the court made its first pronouncements on a number of issues that are critical to regional integration and to the success of the fledgling Single Market within CARICOM.


What part would you say MILE has played in your career success?

The MILE programme has been very important to my continued career successes. First, I am now more willing, and able, to make use of the multidisciplinary approach to international trade, which is crucial in certain technical areas, such as trade remedies. 


Because of the MILE programme I also developed a greater understanding of a number of areas of international trade (law and economics) that are proving to be very useful in my career. One example is trade remedies.  Prior to coming to the WTI I had done minor work as a part of a dumping investigation in Jamaica.  Since completing the programme, I have found myself doing more work with trade remedies and I am now a Commissioner at the Jamaica Anti-Dumping and Subsidies Commission. I would say that the programme had a direct impact in raising my interest in this field of law and in giving me the tools to pursue that interest.


Finally, I have maintained the relationships that I had made with some of my MILE 9 classmates from around the world. I have had the opportunity, and the pleasure, of calling on one such classmate in a professional capacity and with great success.


What advice would you give to current or potential MILE students?

To international students, in particular those from developing countries, I would urge them to make use of the proximity of the WTI to the heart of international trade in Geneva. I would urge them to visit the various institutions and get as close as they can to the work that they do.  I did not do this and it is actually one of the regrets that I have about my tenure at the WTI.


I would, and have, advised potential MILE students that this programme in unparalleled, and I believe that most will find the experience to be useful for their future careers. For instance, I found the blend of law and economics in each weekly module to be unique.  Also, I found that the use of leading practitioners and authors in the delivery of the modules brought the subject matter to life for students, many of whom, in my cohort, were mid-career professionals who needed and appreciated this level of interaction.


In addition, the breadth of the subjects covered (climate change, intellectual property, non-tariff measures, competition policy) is remarkable and I do not think it will be found elsewhere. This is one of the reasons that the programme is so challenging and highly regarded.  Finally, the programme is targeted towards practitioners as well as policy makers and this will give potential students great scope in charting their future careers.


What plans or ambitions do you have for the future?

I plan to continue on my current career path of developing my legal practice and conducting more consultancies in the area of international trade within CARICOM. I also hope to continue my association with the Trade Law Guide.


I have not yet had the opportunity to pursue my PhD and I still do have ambitions to do this in the near future.

"I found the blend of law and economics in each weekly module to be unique."