PROFILE: SIR HUGH WOODING S.C., O.B.E. 1904 - 1974
The Hugh Wooding Law School opened its doors to its first students in September 1973. Like the Council of Legal Education’s other Law Schools, the Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica which was also established in 1973, and the Eugene Dupuch Law School, the third Law School of the Council of Legal Education established in The Bahamas in 1998, it prepares students for admission to practice in the Commonwealth Caribbean territories.
The Hugh Wooding Law School is named after an illustrious jurist of the campus territory Trinidad and Tobago, Sir Hugh Wooding.
Sir Hugh Olliviere Beresford Wooding was born in 1904 in Trinidad of Barbadian parentage. His academic brilliance was evidenced early in his life with the award of an exhibition to Queen’s Royal College in 1914 where he excelled in academics and again earned an island scholarship to study law at Middle Temple.
At Middle Temple, Sir Hugh again distinguished himself by being the Inns of Court Prizeman in Constitutional Law and Legal History in 1925 and won the Inns of Court Studentship in 1926 which was the first ever for any Caribbean student. He was also awarded the Certificate of Honour as had Norman Manley before him.
Sir Hugh returned to Trinidad in 1926 after a period of pupillage in London and was admitted to the Bar of Trinidad and Tobago on July 5, 1927. He immediately went into private practice where he again excelled. In practice, Sir Hugh epitomised the excellence for which most attorneys strive and was given the nickname “Tiger” for his tenacity in furthering the cause of his client. Sir Hugh, in his career, acted for both prosecution and defence. He had a reputation for charging modest fees and for doing work at no cost for those he thought could not afford it. He was a man of indisputable integrity and honesty.
His success at the Bar was phenomenal and transcended Trinidad and Tobago. In fact, he became the quintessential Caribbean man. It is said by his biographer, Selwyn Ryan, that he practised throughout the Caribbean and perhaps had a greater reputation in some territories like Jamaica than in Trinidad and Tobago. His professional achievements included being called to become Chief Justice directly from the private Bar in 1962 and being made a Councillor to Her Majesty the Queen’s Privy Council
Sir Hugh’s contribution was not only to the law, but he also became involved in city politics from 1941 and was elected Mayor in 1943. Other aspects of what was a tireless life included active participation in freemasonry and he was an avid patron of the arts. Sir Hugh was a key architect in the process of constitution reform in Trinidad and Tobago and chaired the Constitution Commission in the early 1970’s which made many innovative recommendations on constitution reform which were later rejected by the then government. In 1971, he became Chancellor of the University of the West Indies. His excursions into education also led him to be one of pioneers and founding fathers of West Indian legal education.
Sir Hugh died on July 26, 1974 of a heart attack.
This consists of a male Magnificent Frigate Bird with outstretched wings with a red throat patch in its breeding season, perched on a gold balance on a wreath alternatively gold and red.
On the left side a man dressed in a hat and wearing trousers and the sleeves of his open shirt rolled and holding in his hand and resting his foot on an agricultural fork. On the right side a woman dressed in a tartan pattered jupe with bodice and petticoat, wearing a head-dress of Madras cloth and holding in her hand a star-apple plant. The growing plant in the hand of the woman is the symbol of fertility and represents the verdant flora of the region. The man and the woman represents the foundation of the West Indian family life and depict the idea of the law being made by and for the people.
This consist of a gold disc powered with black ermine spots thereon two caimite or star-apple leaves, the one on the left showing the upper side and the one on the right showing the under side.