Given the fact that the Bar Association (BA) has now debunked Barry Gale as its president, the actions by the Chief Justice (CJ) in interfering in matters in which he has no authority must now raise the suspicion that the CJ’s conduct was designed to shore up Barry Gale’s position as president of the BA, given the fact that the BA is contemplating taking legal action against the CJ. Whether this was the CJ’s intent or not, is now a moot point as Barry Gale has been voted out of office and Tariq Khan into office.
BU family member Pachamama raised some interesting points recently concerning what happens to lawyers who appropriate money from clients’ funds. BU did a little research on one such case, that of attorney Therold Fields, which provides the template of how things are done in Barbados – See $700,000 theft charge.
The Disciplinary Committee of the BA referred the matter of Mr Fields to the Court of Appeal. And, predictably, in the last week or so, the Court of Appeal adjourned its hearing. Meanwhile, so far as BY can discover, no criminal proceedings for theft have been commenced by the DPP against Mr Fields. And Mr Fields continues to have the right to practice law.
Why has Mr Fields not been criminally indicted? Why has Mr Fields not been suspended from the practice of law? Why is the CJ usurping an authority that he does not have to go after attorneys who are lawfully practicing law and NOT making free with their clients’ money, but merely insisting on their right under the Constitution not to join an association?
It has also been suggested that we should do away with the UK systems. How the UK system treats with clients’ funds is interesting. We can clearly see that Barbados is very far what is practiced in the UK system.
In the UK, there are solicitors and barristers. Solicitors have to be members of the Law Society and barristers have to be members of the inns of court.
Clients do not instruct and pay barristers, this is done by their solicitors and payment from clients’ funds is only made to the barrister once costs are taxed and it is made by the solicitor, not the client.
Each year, solicitors have to submit their accounts to the Law Society for auditing and it is only after the Law Society has satisfied itself that these accounts are in order that the solicitor is issued a practice certificate.
This is not to say that there are no “irregularities” in the UK with solicitors and clients’ funds, merely that if there are, these are likely to be discovered annually by the Law Society and, until the solicitor has satisfied the Law Society, they cannot practice law.
Another BU family member Jeff Cumberbatch posted a comment on another blog which referred to Belize, which has the same conditions as those in our Constitution and Legal Professions Act, in which there is the complaint that the BA of Belize does nothing. And the same can be said of the Barbados Bar Association – BECAUSE the BA is allowed by law to call on any attorney to have their accounts audited, but has always failed to do this, until the cat is out of the bag.
Let us not forget about the Compensation Fund. Every year upon paying their fees for their practice certificates, every attorney is required to pay a fixed sum in addition that is remitted to the BA, the purpose being to compensate clients for “irregularities” perpetrated by attorneys. As BU has previously pointed out, this account runs into the millions of dollars and the only removals that have been from it have been to pay for the advertising of the estates of deceased attorneys – see Tales from the Courts.
Is it any wonder, therefore, that a growing number of attorneys have exercised their constitutional right not to enter into association with the BA? Indeed, given the eminence and the respect in which these dissenting attorneys are held, it may be safer to select an attorney on the basis of their NOT being a member of the BA where membership seems to assure an apparent immunity from criminal prosecution and suspension pending an investigation taking years.
Meanwhile, Mr Fields continues to have a legal right to practice law in Barbados, while the CJ is illegitimately seeking to deny audience and reclaim the practice certificates of attorneys who choose to exercise their constitutional rights.
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