The following is an abridge version of a communication received by the blogmaster. To protect the author names of some parties were withheld. In the opinion of the blogmaster the submission reinforces several blogs on the subject of the need for effective regulation to monitor and discipline lawyers in Barbados – David, Blogmaster
A moral injustice prevails when the legal fraternity within any society can act with callous disregard to ethical principles which it is supposed to operate under and it is not held to account for actions which oppose these rules. Barbados sought to ‘leave its Colonial past behind,’ and has become a Republic but it will remain ‘shackled’ by its own heavy man-made chains, which unbalance the scales of justice if it does not act with enforcing accountability on the country’s legal profession.
Undeniably, a country’s government cannot police personal morals; unarguably, principles and standards under law, which govern the actions and behaviours of lawyers should be kept under vigilant scrutiny by a properly functioning body, that is robust and transparent.
Significantly, people who suffer at the hands of unscrupulous lawyers, many of whom are women clients undergoing high emotional trauma, are reluctant to speak out, for fear of reprisal by a societal culture of ‘blaming and high religious righteous indignation,’ levelled at the victims. Therefore, these lawyers in a superior position, take advantage of their victims at a time of high vulnerability who have put trust in them and they abuse that trust. This not only results in financial damage but the emotional cost factor is untold, with substantial injury inflicted on susceptible individuals who have turned to these lawyers for help.
For those reading and about to take a judgemental position, please ask yourself these questions: if a blind person asked you to escort them across a busy cross road intersection, would you feel right about navigating them into the middle of traffic and abandoning them? If an anxious child asked you to hold its ice-cream to urgently go to the toilet, would you eat it? These analogies resonate with those in desperate need of legal help, who turn to lawyers in Barbados and in particular, powerless women seeking help.
There is one former prominent lawyer (now deceased) who took on divorce cases, where property was involved, wielded position and power over young women for his own personal and financial gain. His conduct of fraternising with his client was merely reprimanded by one judge in closed court, unchallenged and never reported to the BA by any of his peers; even though, they all were aware of his conduct. Back then, an upcoming ambitious attorney, who is now the present Attorney General, was informed about this lawyer’s unprofessional conduct and client liaisons; but did he report that individual? No. No lawyer wants to report another and would it do any good reporting to the BA so the behaviour continues. Conversely, more can also be said about abuse of power within other sectors; the exercise of harmful influence over others, who approach business institutions to engage in lawful pursuits only to be forced into relationships with those who head these business entities.
Incumbent upon the Barbados government is addressing, the lack of challenge of this wrongdoing which spills over into an unwritten law, that abuse of position and power is acceptable. This pervasive social view has become entrenched and inherent, written into the subconscious, and into an ‘invisible constitution,’ that those who hold other offices, see it as the natural progression of being empowered, to control others with resulting tangible rewards, thereby functioning under their own circle of ‘self-regulated systems.’ Seeking justice by engaging and soliciting the help of a lawyer or participating in conducting business, should never become a mine field of being preyed upon, exploited nor swindled.
Government ministries are closely tied to the legal fraternity; indeed, several government ministers are lawyers or affiliated to legal firms. Negotiation and deals can become rather personal; intertwined and often blurred, creating more inequalities in society when there is the absence of accountability of the ethics which guide the legal profession. Within this current atmosphere, abuse of power and trust, and whereby lawyers are not vigorously monitored, all support injustices being solidified, which in turn create a new type of slavery, that is not perpetuated by the White Europeans but an acceptance of the ‘the way things are,’ one which is a social construct, called ‘Black Manipulation.’