Once A Lawyer, Always A Damn Lawyer!

Andrew Pilgrim, President of the Barbados Bar Association

A registered attorney at law is currently assisting lawmen with investigations into a number of matters of fraud. CBC understands that the circumstances involve alleged conveyances of land. One case under investigation reportedly exceeded over two million dollars of property. Reports are that the attorney could be facing several charges and could appear in court as early as FridayCBC.bb (10 March 2011)

They say timing is everything. The Barbados Bar Association (Bar) does not need another example to illustrate how greed has infiltrated its ranks. The incidence of lawyers ‘teeffin’ from Barbadians is reaching close to tipping point. It is only a matter of time before vigilante justice takes hold if the Bar is not able to police itself. The case highlighted represents the tip of the iceberg, rampant misconduct by lawyers has become the routine.  It has now become difficult for Barbadians – who are intimidated by the profession through their ignorance – to determine correct procedure from what is taking advantage.

Against the foregoing, the recent report of Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart defending his* profession on a flimsy premise provoked the thought, ‘birds of a feather flocked together’.   Here is what he is quoted as saying in parliament yesterday (09 March 2010),   “Prime Minister [sic] Freundel Stuart on Tuesday came to the defence of the legal profession, noting that Barbadians were often too quick to criticize lawyers for charging exorbitantly high fees for their services”.

Oh no Prime Minister, you could not be more wrong, your slip is definitely showing. Barbadians are fed up with the legal profession because of the length of time it takes to do routine transactions, Barbadians are fed up with lawyers because of those who prey on Barbadians too lazy to educate themselves of their rights, Barbadians are fed up with lawyers who use client funds to earn interest from banks as a means to supplement their incomes and the list is long.

The recently appointed President of the Bar Andrew Pilgrim is presented with an early opportunity to signal to his colleagues that he is serious about cleaning up the image of the legal profession.  Let us see the Bar take the bold decision to publish the names of lawyers against who matters have been brought.

Should we add that we listened to Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite in the news today dishing out the usual diplomatic drivel his predecessors would have delivered? In a very short time he has become adept at mastering the art of saying a lot but saying nothing. When asked about the backlog of cases he referred to the use of technology, night court and stated the acting Chief Justice and others were working to relieve the congestion. All these initiatives Barbadians have been promised to Barbadians in the past to improve the delivery of justice.

What a load of bullshite!

0 thoughts on “Once A Lawyer, Always A Damn Lawyer!

  1. What’s new?
    They are thousands more just where that one came from.
    This will start in court, but will never end there. The attorney in question, ( like his predecessors), will make an arrangement with the victims & pay them back like a Coolie Man.
    I don’t know if Andrew Pilgrim have what it takes to set things right & I doubt very much that one man can make a difference.
    Until Barbadians take a stand regarding the poor service given by most Attorneys At Law, they will continue to take advantage & milk them for all their worth.

    I will not tell you how long a certain arrogant female lawyer took to sort out my mortgage. After taking so long, with a lot of fowl ups, bleeps & blunders, my land taxes still goes to my very old address in the UK (although she had the most recent one) & it is still in my previous name.
    I had a laugh when she demanded her money up front.
    I was forced to have a run in & clash with her & at the end of the day, this woman realized there was no fight that she would win with this menopausal bitch. Her game plan with clients is to have a bullying & confrontational stance, backed up by her goat of an office assistance.

    The next one took a full cash payment to sort a will & Power of Attorney out for me. I returned to the UK & 3-4 months after, nothing done. After several calls from the UK & a few visits from a relative, I was forced to repeat a few choice words to him. That did the trick, along with the fact that I was scheduled to fly home within 2 weeks.

    The next took my money since January 2010, with the view of writing a letter to a person, this letter was only sent January 2011.

    Another took my paperwork, with instructions to get a delinquent out of my rented property & up to date he has done nothing, but the tenant has since vacated the premises.

    I will tell you about another one who is politically affiliated. He was instructed to retrieve several thousand dollars owed to me. This man kept cancelling appointments, promising to return calls & never did & was a no show to appointments.
    This was done because another Lawyer (who is politically affiliated), did a cock up on paperwork & would have been held accountable. He also had an interest in the organization to which this dishonest defendant belonged.
    So tell me, who is going to sort out all of this corruption & mediocre standards in the B’dos Bar Association?

  2. The PM’s statement is of such import that the full report on it requires repetition. Here it is:

    PRIME MINISTER Freundel Stuart on Tuesday came to the defence of the legal profession, noting that Barbadians were often too quick to criticize lawyers for charging exorbitantly high fees for their services.

    Speaking in the House of Assembly on amendments to the Land (Title Proceedings) Bill 2011, Stuart said that in the best of “all possible worlds” , the public would have to pay “nothing at all” for the services offered by various professionals, but that was not feasible.

    But how could it be reasonable, he asked, for people seeking title deeds for property valued at $400 000 to pay a legal fee in the amount of $200.

    To this end, he said that while no one said anything about the expensive homes being built or the high cost of the land, yet they would question the fees being charged by lawyers facilitating the process.

    “I don’t subscribe to that,” said Stuart, noting that the bank charges were not questioned, nor were the fees charged by doctors, dentists and other professionals.

    Yet, it was somehow expected that lawyers who were involved in “big transactions” were expected to charge small fees, he said.

    He acknowledged that the system could be abused, but as a lawyer himself, his experience was that for the most part lawyers charged according to the particular case and circumstance of the client.

    “You can’t expect a lawyer to work on a big transaction and find fault with his fees. The fees charged by doctors or dentists are not a problem.”

    To his mind, Government had done its part in bringing the amended legislation to the floor of Parliament to bring an end to the “lacuna” in which Barbados found itself.

    This, he said, was as a result of the issue of a practice direction issued by a former Chief Justice that resulted in the Registrar of the Supreme Court and its staff being reluctant to issue new title deeds.

    This had for since October 2009 resulted in a backlog of title suits that had affected small landowners and big developers as well.

    “It had affected all classes,” Stuart said, adding that the new legislation would bring “clear procedure” and “clarity” to the acquisition of land titles.

    To this end, he gave credit to Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite and his staff for a job well done in bringing the comprehensive new legislation to Parliament.

    Stuart is comparing Lawyers charging fees based on land values with the fees charged by Doctors and dentists and perhaps architects and other professionals.

    Is he comparing like with like?

    Do Lawyers have to do more work (spend more of their valuable time and scarce skills) in direct proportion with the cost of the land or property being sold or bought?

    How can this be compared with an architect, let’s say, whose charges are, as far as I understand, based on the value of the property being built which must be directly proportional to the architectural work and specialist skills necessary for developing unique plans to fit specific situations?

    Lawyer’s work in the area of property transactions is often boiler plate as the success of Online legal conveyancing and other solutions in the US can demonstrate and should really be subject to strict fee structures.

    Do Medical doctors or specialists charge according to the status of their patients or is there a generally fixed fee based on the Doctor’s specialization?

    Seems to me that the PM is saying that a Lawyer would be justified if he/she charged ding ding 1,000 dollars for conveying a property valued at 100,000 dollars and Bizzy Williams 50,000 dollars for conveying an equivalent property next door when the actual work involved in either case, based on time spent etc., could only be valued at say 150 dollars.

  3. The Prime Minister talking bare shite.

    Too many Bajan lawyers arre greedy incompetent shites.

    One took 14 years NOT to do a peice of work for me. Gave it to another who completed the work (a 2 page document that any good class 4 child could write up) in less than 4 months and didn’t charge me a cent either.

  4. “But how could it be reasonable, he asked, for people seeking title deeds for property valued at $400 000 to pay a legal fee in the amount of $200.”

    With all due respect to whoever wrote the above, that could be the value of a wood and wall house on half acre of land. The owner could be a small farmer who makes little more than minimum wage.

    For those of us who can afford the fees the problem is the length of time it takes to get the work done.

    There is no excuse for incompetence.

    I gine an watch windies play Ireland.

  5. That’s real “rich” coming from the PM, he attempts to address the fees but he doesn’t tackle the timeliness of settlement of legal matters.

    People don’t mind paying for services rendered but when you pay and wait and wait and wait ad infinitum then something is wrong. There is no credible complaint system and in the very few instances where a lawyer has been convicted of any thing the judge usually punishes the charlatan with a slap on the wrist.

    There is no requirement to separate Operating funds from client Trust funds which makes it tempting for some one to “borrow” the client’s funds and sooner or later you will be reading about cases like this, with 800 lawyers and more coming down the pike wunnah in for a rough ride

  6. Bim is in danger of becoming the laughing-stock of d Eastern Caribbean, or is d West! lol!! is all d same ting anyway!!

  7. only d lawyers at it? from my lil exp. uh Bim wuh even d preachers at it! lol!! nuh wonda when i tink uh Bim i gotta laugh!! look, leh me guh long n have my brekkie hay in cold London, do!!

  8. The PM’s statement, though infelicitously phrased, is correct, but only in the extremely narrow context in which it was made.

    It has been pointed out to me by a friend, the PM is guilty of cherry picking. I have to concede that point. The PM has not addressed or even mentioned the inequities practiced by some lawyers in the matter of billing and retainers. It is those that have given the legal profession a stinking name – and rightly. The public is up in arms – and rightly.

    There are still some top lawyers who charge a consultation fee of a minimal amount and, if they agree to take the case, you never see another bill from them until the case is concluded. Unfortunately, in our society which cannot afford it, the malaise of countries like Canada and the UK, where there is greater access to legal aid and where there is also access to lawyers who will work on contingency (no win no fee) has become the norm. Many clients in Barbados are charged for everything, even down to photocopying at a 100% and more mark-up for each page. Thus have many lawyers colluded in removing justice from the people and handing it over lock, stock and barrel, to those who can afford the fees, whether they are correct in law or not. In Barbados, might is right.

    In the context in which the PM made his statement, he is correct. However, his statement cannot be seen by the man in the street as other than a generalization and defence of lawyers in general. That is unfortunate.

    I wholeheartedly agree that it is high time for a system to be put in place that allows people access to law without having to go near a lawyers office. In many cases, it is possible to post forms and directions online and also to accept filing online, in a way that can be followed and adhered to by the general public. This would significantly reduce the costs of legal processes in a lot of cases and it would speed up the whole process of justice and of the courts. The larger countries have these systems and it is high time that Barbados did as well. And so what if some of the less successful lawyers have to go and find work in other fields of endeavour and the membership of the Bar is correspondingly reduced?

    And once again I raise the issue oft-raised by BU that it is time that basic law became a part of the schools curriculum as it is an integral and inescapable part of birth, life and death – as important as being able to cook a meal. You learn to cook for yourself, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t go to a restaurant to enjoy the services of a top chef. Similarly, you may be able to look after basic legal matters yourself in a legal system that is more user-friendly to the general public, but that doesn’t mean that you will not from time to time require the services of a lawyer for more complex matters.

  9. Give PM Stuart a break! He is reported as saying that “from the age of six”, he has been receiving more love than he could want. Wuhloss, I feel sorry fuh Fumble, ah mean … it tek he mother six years to decide she gwine love he after all!

  10. My family have just completed the sale of a family property in the UK. House value 300,000 pounds. Legal fees? 750 pounds, including stamp duty. Real estate commission? 1.25% – in Barbados the going rate is 5%. It is also possible to have the conveyancing done by a para legal, or even by yourself, if you have the time. As per “Checkit Out”, these are boilerplate transactions, with not one iota of work more being done for any conveyance, regardless of the value.

  11. Ah ‘cmon, dont worry, be happy. None of this matters. Within 25 years (at the latest) we will all have moved onto the hereafter anyway. The lawyers, David, me, you, PM Stuart, all ‘o we.

    Here is something to lighten the mood,

    …”You seem to be in some distress,” said the kindly judge to the witness. “Is anything the matter?”
    “Well, your Honour,” said the witness, “I swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but every time I try, some lawyer objects.”

    ….A new client had just come in to see a famous lawyer.
    “Can you tell me how much you charge?”, said the client.
    “Of course”, the lawyer replied, “I charge $200 to answer three questions!”
    “Well that’s a bit steep, isn’t it?”
    “Yes it is”, said the lawyer, “And what’s your third question?”

    ….A lawyer married a woman who had previously divorced ten husbands. On their wedding night, she told her new husband, “Please be gentle, I’m still a virgin.”

    “What?” said the puzzled groom. “How can that be if you’ve been married ten times?”


    •”Husband #1 was a sales representative: he kept telling me how great it was going to be.
    •Husband #2 was in software services: he was never really sure how it was supposed to function, but he said he’d look into it and get back to me.
    •Husband #3 was from field services: he said everything checked out diagnostically but he just couldn’t get the system up.
    •Husband #4 was in telemarketing: even though he knew he had the order, he didn’t know when he would be able to deliver.
    •Husband #5 was an engineer: he understood the basic process but wanted three years to research, implement, and design a new state-of-the-art method.
    •Husband #6 was from finance and administration: he thought he knew how, but he wasn’t sure whether it was his job or not.
    •Husband #7 was in marketing: although he had a nice product, he was never sure how to position it.
    •Husband #8 was a psychologist: all he ever did was talk about it.
    •Husband #9 was a gynecologist: all he did was look at it.
    •Husband #10 was a stamp collector: all he ever did was… God! I miss him! But now that I’ve married you, I’m really excited!”
    “Good,” said the new husband, “But… why?”

    “You’re a lawyer. This time I know I’m gonna get screwed!”

  12. I hear horror stories constantly of lawyers who run off with clients money, who do not pay when they contract the services of individuals and there is no justice because they make an agreement to repay the money and then take their time paying it back.

  13. De lawlessness of some bajan lawyers is just laughable.
    But dis ain nuh joke.
    This is real serious, wrong and deplorable,
    To long, much talk, nothing done, time tuh pull de choke.

    Who he is? whey he live? — I want his name,
    to parade before de crowd,
    tuh jarr, and mock, uh gine mek he shame.


  14. It is time we hit the streets and protest. The merchants, the utility companies, the politicians all think we are fools.
    Just heard that the BL&P BILLS will soon be increased because of fuel prices, yet when the price of oil went down our light bills didn’t move in terms of prices. This foolishness must stop.

  15. Sir Bentwood Dick
    There were these two friends who borrowed money from a wealthy old man. On his death bed he asked them if they would kindly repay because he wanted to will the money to his children. At the funeral one friend asked the other if he had repaid the loan. The other friend, who was a lawyer said he didn’t get to chance to pay him before he died so he wrote a cheque and placed it in his casket. Even the dead a lawyer can trick.

  16. so according to the PM, there’s no particular fee, u are charged according to the cost of ur property. so even tho the paper work is basically the same for property worth $20,000 as for one worth $100,000, the lawyer has the right charge base on cost of property. i never knew that before, a dentist and doctor performs various services and dimensions of services so their fees would vary – that is understandable. i never admired the PM and I admire him less know… he only showed me what i came along hearing about the blackness one skin in comparison to their personality

  17. Very sad to see what is happening to Leroy Lynch, very sad indeed. On BU we have discussed the need to improve basic education of law. There is a lot which falls under the realm of fair comment which we can discuss.

  18. actually the work for the 100,000 might be even less than for the 20,000 since the land has probably been less subdivided and easier path to find in title deeds. at this point i think a fixed fee based on group size would be better since people wouldn’t feel cheated by lawyers or BBA release a fee chart for group of sizes of land once there isn’t exceptional case. in those evidence is shown for exception.

  19. I have worked hard as most have, for their money.

    God help the stupid bugger who ever decides to steal, lawyer or no lawyer. Court? What court, waste taxpayer money and time, for buggering up another person life? If I ever transfer in a conveyance and the money dont go through, me and the lawyer going to0 have a man to man chat, up close and personal.

    If people id learn to make them unnderstand how to do things properly, after two or three ‘events’, the rest would get the message!

    • @Sarge

      The Nation updated the following:

      On theft charges

      Sat, March 12, 2011 – 12:05 AM

      Leroy Lynch, a 61-year-old attorney-at-law, will appear in the District “A” Magistrates’ Court today on theft charges involving over $2.2 million.

      Lynch, of Martindales Road, St Michael, is accused of a series of theft and money laundering offences.

      Here, Lynch (centre) is seen alighting from a police vehicle accompanied by two detectives in Central Police Station last night. (TS)

    • There can be no doubt the arrest of Leroy Lynch must have struck the legal profession hard.

      He has always been seen as one of the more reputable legal eagles who is old school.

  20. Pilgrim need to do alot to turn around the image of the BBA. he need to start now if has any hope of succeeding.

    • @anthony

      Pilgrim can’t do it alone. The legal fraternity is a powerful group with deep agendas whose tentacles are deeply rooted in the Barbados landscape.

      Some lawyers have started to avail themselves of the anonymity which BU provides to expose the underbelly of the justice system in Barbados. Many don’t like what is happening.

      BU sends out the invitation to other lawyers to help in the fight to clean up the profession, the status quo is not going to cut it any longer, the tipping point is in sight.

  21. Indeed but as leader of bba his voice is what going to drive the change. he need people to support him also to implement rules the bba will not tolerate this nonsense anymore. The whole profession is looked as a bunch of thieves.

  22. @David,

    The Good Bajan lawyers ( there are some) need to step up and help stop the rot.

    I know a gentleman who worked till retirement, “deposited” his savings with a lawyer and lost it all.

    He now has to live out the rest of his days in the cold because his dream to retire in Barbados was destroyed.

    Some overseas Bajans are now very sceptical about retiring in Barbados because of difficulties with Lawyers.

    My suggestion to Bajans in Canada is to always keep a substantial amount of your savings in one of the Canadian Banks that have a Trust division in Barbados.
    It will cost you extra but you could do major transactions through a Trust division of a Canadian Bank.

    I don’t know anything about the UK or USA banking system so I can’t make suggestions about their Banks.

  23. By Tim Slinger | Sat, March 12, 2011 – 6:30 PM

    ATTORNEY-AT-LAW Leroy Lynch, accused of stealing over $2.2 million, will have to await until Monday to find out if he would be granted bail.

    Lynch, 61, of Martindales Road, St Michael appeared before Magistrate Manilla Renee earlier today in the District “A” Magistrates’ Court on 15 counts of theft and money laundering charges.

    He was offered bail in the sum of $2 million with four sureties.

    However, Lynch was remanded to Dodds Prison since his sureties did not satisfy the court’s requirements for bailors.

    The matter was adjourned until Monday to allow time for the sureties to verify their financial status.

  24. Maybe hants. normally they make bail. Strange that bail wasn’t set above the amount believed to be stolen as the norm.

  25. Barbados is fast becoming the laughing stock of the Caribbean. The PM badly wants to make it the envy of the Caribbean but with the number of thiefing lawyers we have here it will be a very difficult task. “Barbados is a nation of thieves” quoted the late Errol Barrow. The chickens are coming home to roost. It is time to clean up our act. From Politicians, lawyers, doctors, civil servants, merchants and the rest of the population. We have a long uphill battle.

  26. @islandgal246,

    There are still 2 honest lawyers in Barbados and there are both members of the nation of BU.

    Anonlegal and Amused will be working tirelessly to save the honour of the legal profession in Barbados.

    It is this daam capitalist system that is putting pressure on our Lawyers and the duties and taxes in Barbados mekkin it hard to afford the basic necessities.
    Bimma or Benz $350thou. 4 bedroom house in de hites $1mil. Outside woman in New York,Miami or Montreal????

    It is tough to be a Lawya in Babadus.

  27. Lemme tell all wunna lawyers, when ah selling myh property, I am demanding that my money be paid to me in my bank account by the buyer. I don’t want nuh lawyer touching muh money at all, even eff he is muh good friend. Or put in an escrow account in my name until all transactions have been finalised. There must be some lawyer who can give some free advice on how to avoid putting large sums of money in dem hands.

  28. @David

    He has always been seen as one of the more reputable legal eagles who is old school.
    Alas poor Leroy! How the mighty have fallen.

    Scratch the surface of many of these “reputable” lawyers and there is a scandal waiting to happen. I keep saying that there is nothing to prevent clients’ funds being used by lawyers for their own purposes. No segregation of funds, no oversight, no one to appeal to, no punishment, nada, nothing, zilch.

    There is not enough business to go around for the many lawyers practicing in Barbados for them all to be enjoying successful careers. There are a few who represent Corporate interests who do alright but the majority who represent the B&E artists, or represent those charged with wounding, loitering etc. barely eke out a living. No wonder many of them join political parties in the hope that they will be elected to Parliament.

    They have all these appearances to keep up, so if the car, mortgage or other Bank loan is due and you “borrow” funds to cover these amounts, then you “borrow” to cover your borrowings and soon enough you are up $hit creek.

    I keep hearing stories up here about lawyers and interminable delays or funds being withheld for an inordinate amount of time. As recently as this evening I was having a conversation with a friend about a totally unrelated issue when out of the blue he told me about a mutual acquaintance who resides up North and who was defrauded by his cousin (a lawyer). Seems that there was some family property which should have been inherited by this friend after the death of his father but the cousin was left in charge due to the professional status and helped themselves to the property.

    Where there is smoke there is fire.

  29. @ Sargeant,

    Thanks to modern communication (internet) and the growing number of Bajans who belong to Alumni or Bajan organisations
    in major North American cities, the stories about problems with money,estates and property in Barbados are reaching a lot more people.

    Overseas Bajans are going to be more careful in dealing with Lawyers in Barbados because the bad apples are being exposed.

  30. Hants

    Put 20 Bajans in a room up here and 10 will tell you “lawyer” stories and none of them will be complimentary o lawyers.

    Here are two quotations from Mark Twain:

    I believe you keep a lawyer. I have always kept a lawyer, too, though I have never made anything out of him. It is a service to an author to have a lawyer. There is something so disagreeable in having a personal contact with a publisher. So it is better to work through a lawyer–and lose your case.

    Lawyers are like other people–fools on the average; but it is easier for an ass to succeed in that trade than any other

  31. So Leroy Lynch in jail on remand well bravo its time theiving lawyers get lock up like the drug pushers on the block they are criminals just like the wicked block youth.

  32. What pisses me off most is that as a tax payer I contribute to their education at the University pun de Hill … What a crock … Barbados is the only population in the whole world that funds the education of farts like these …

  33. Normally when a lawyer comes before a judge the whole fraternity does down tau and run to appear in defense… Wah happen, dis Leroy ain’ got nah friends?

  34. Lemme tell all wunna lawyers, when ah selling myh property, I am demanding that my money be paid to me in my bank account by the buyer. I don’t want nuh lawyer touching muh money at all, even eff he is muh good friend. Or put in an escrow account in my name until all transactions have been finalised. There must be some lawyer who can give some free advice on how to avoid putting large sums of money in dem hands.
    How to become a lawyer

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