Death of Lawyer Sparks Wrath!

The death of the Lovell family formerly of Breezy Hill, St. Philip continues to be a talking point. The event as reported is unusual for Barbados not accustomed to a family that included young children perishing in questionable circumstances. The blogmaster will resist speculating about how the event occurred.

However, it is interesting to note one of the deceased persons was lawyer Allison Alexander-Lovell who was sanctioned by the Disciplinary Committee for withholding $160,000 of client’s monies in 2016. It is reported she was due to reappear in Court this week on the matter.

The blogmaster as a human being joins the majority of Barbadians who are sorry the Lovell family met untimely deaths. However, it has not gone unnoticed the ire many Barbadians have taken the opportunity to direct at lawyers. For many years lawyers have been known to sit on clients funds and important legal documents for unreasonably lengthy periods; sometimes for always without fear of being sanctioned by the Barbados Bar Association and Disciplinary Committee. 

The fact that successive governments have been composed of members of the legal profession has stoked public cynicism that this is a profession that is about preserving the establishment and the way it does business at any cost. The blogmaster has cited too many examples since its inception in 2006. One of the more blatant examples is a sitting Speaker of the House Michael Carrington who had to be ordered by the high court to surrender monies to a septuagenarian former client without having to step down from serving as Speaker of the House of Assembly AND with the blessing of then prime minister Freundel Stuart. You cannot make this stuff up.

Members of the legal profession in Barbados should be aware of what is referred to as the ‘tipping point’ – ‘defined as the point at which a series of small changes or incidents become significant enough to cause a larger, more important change’. Let it not be stated this blogmaster is stoking ‘insurrection’ against the legal fraternity, the blogmaster has friends and family who are members. Notwithstanding the affinity, rising anti-lawyer sentiment in the country is real and will not take many more changes to set the cat amongst the pigeons. 

We are living in harsh economic times, citizens will not continue to be docile while access to money and property are withheld from them by greedy, corrupt lawyers. The time has long past for the Barbados Bar Association and Disciplinary Committee to switch from PR mode to one of policing its members in the interest of the public it serves. There is also a role for government as policy maker to protect the public it swore to serve.

Here Ye Hear Ye – Barbados Bar Association Proposes to Increase Fees at Special General Meeting!

Rosalind Millar, President of the BBA
Rosalind Millar, President of the BBA

Pursuant to Rule 11 of the Rules of the Barbados Bar Association NOTICE is hereby given of a SPECIAL GENERAL MEETING of the Barbados Bar Association to be held on Friday 1st July 2022 at 3:00 PM  Via Zoom. The main agenda item is “Scale of Fees”.

AGENDA

1.            Welcome and establishment of quorum.

2.            To consider and adopt the Report of the Costs Fees Committee for the amendment of the Legal Profession (Attorneys-at-Law) Contentious Business Rules

3.            To approve the submission of the said Report and new draft Rules to the Rules Committee of the Supreme Court for consideration and approval pursuant to Section 35 of the Legal Profession Act, Cap. 370A of the Laws of Barbados.

NOTE: The Report and the relevant proposed resolutions are attached.

Dated the 20th day of June 2022

By order of the Council

Raquel R. Gilkes

Hon. Secretary

Wren Herbert – Lawyers Continue to Abuse the Public with Abandon

Concern has been perennially expressed about the distress members of the legal fraternity visit on the lives of citizens of Barbados. Although the Barbados Bar Association (BBA) and the Disciplinary Committee have grounding in law to discipline the profession, there is little evidence lawyers who run afoul of the laws are satisfactorily sanctioned.

We are a nation of laws enacted to protect the rights of citizens from those willing to abuse said laws. It therefore goes without saying we need lawyers to represent us to ensure equity based system design. What we need to get right is to implement a framework where actors in the legal system can be held accountable.

The following paints another sad tale of a man, WREN HERBERT, from West Terrace who took advantage of a situation and to date despite the best effort of the person abused (AV), WREN HERBERT has gone unpunished. This is despite communications to the BBA. From the blogmaster’s research Wren Herbert appears not to be a practicing attorney at this time, he was. He is the brother of the infamous Caroline Herbert.

See report received via COMPLAINTS ——> LAWYERS.


Submitted by AV

Unethical and Dishonest Conduct-Wren Herbert Attorney-at-Law

I am aware that nothing will result from the following which I am outlining, concerning Wren Herbert. However, for the record, I still wish to detail an issue of integrity which should remain extremely concerning for any country when significant numbers of its lawyers fail to act with integrity and trustworthiness. These lawyers elude accountability because of the structures which fail to recognize that it is essential and important for lawyers to be honest and behave lawfully.

It is possible that Wren Herbert may already have been removed from the Bar Association. I was unable to gain information on this because it is extremely painful on soliciting information from any governmental or official body in Barbados when overseas, even emails go unanswered; one encounters a ‘brick wall experience.’

This ‘brick wall’ is all constructed on the basis of, the ‘judging’ of the individual who is seeking the information; drawing conclusions about the individual’s perceived circumstances and actions, a very ‘subjective’ stance is adopted. This ‘judging’ is then evident in non-responses or lack of desired actions from the governmental body the information is being solicited from. Rather than acting as a professional public body should, the actions of governmental and public bodies’ non-responding and non-action, are personally rooted and can inadvertently support the unlawful conduct of lawyers, totally concealing their actions or lack thereof.

Concomitant to this, the country’s development in terms of justice, is hindered and in the eyes of the world, it comes to be seen as corrupt; all engineered by systems that are links in the chain which strengthen unfair and underhanded practices by lawyers.

Outline of Issue

  1. On emigrating from Barbados, I left as a vulnerable, broken divorcee in search of a new life. I had a NEW Green Toyota Tercel, acquired through a vehicle loan from a Government Ministry. The vehicle was just under one year old.
  2. As a lawyer, and a named friend, I asked Wren Herbert to act on my behalf, to return the vehicle to the Ministry as when I left, I was unsure as to whether I would indeed stay in the new position which I was offered; hence not returning it immediately upon my departure, in the event, that I returned.
  3. When I was confident that I was not returning, less than a month later, Wren Herbert stated that rather than return the vehicle, that he wanted to acquire it and he would therefore take possession of the vehicle and repay the outstanding loan amount to the Ministry.
  4. Wren Herbert, did indeed collect the car from my then home.
  5. A friend, who was staying there at the time, handed Wren Herbert the keys and all the particulars of the vehicle and its loan documentation; undoubtedly, Wren Herbert took the car and rang me to confirm that he did have the vehicle.
  6. The witness is willing to provide a statement to verify that Wren Herbert did indeed take the vehicle from my home and many people, I am sure would have seen him with the green Toyota Tercel, car.
  7. Subsequently, I made several attempts to ascertain the status of Wren Herbert’s undertaking i.e., payments to the Ministry; no response ever came back to me from the Ministry, I was being ignored. Overseas telephone calls were a waste of time and money as I was put on hold, disconnected, passed to unhelpful individuals and overall I was placed on a GNVQ course of, ‘going nowhere very quickly.’
  8. I sought confirmation from Wren Herbert and indeed several more times from the Ministry of Education but got no response from either party. This went on for some time, until I finally gave up since although I felt uneasy about the situation, I still did not believe that as a lawyer who was then working for the Hewitt Law firm, that he would be that dishonest.
  9. During 2021, and as it is the entitlement of the governmental bodies in Barbados to disregard enquiries, after an entire year of battling to receive my Barbados work pension, I was forced to enlist the services of a solicitor to secure responses to my requests for information on my pension application from the Ministry concerned. I was told that some people have to wait years not just one year; is this what is to be expected and accepted?
  10. However, after this year long battle and scars of paying a solicitor to indeed receive my pension from the Barbados Ministry, I was startled to learn that on receipt of my pension award from the Barbados government, that Wren Herbert had kept the vehicle or sold it and had NOT repaid the vehicle loan; therefore, the outstanding amount had been taken from my retirement pension.
  11. That outstanding amount which has been taken is $29,166.62, which Wren Herbert owes to me; this clearly is not the way a lawyer should act.
  12. I engaged a Barbados Law firm which has written to Wren Herbert in respect to this and Wren Herbert has ignored the correspondence but I shall not give in.

Summary
• Finally, as stated in the above description of this issue, public office holders and other official bodies in Barbados, more often than not, fail to respond to any issues or complaints; this supports the unscrupulous lawyers.

• Throughout this scenario, judging people and situations, cause public office holders to renege on carrying out their duties effectively i.e., never responding to letters or calls concerning providing information which you are entitled to.

• Consequently, situations escalate unnecessarily, victims are further damaged and lawyer misconduct grows, casting a dark shadow on the overall ethical position of the country.

• I should like to mention that Dale Marshall did respond to my letter, stating that this was more a ‘personal matter;’ I however beg to differ.

• As a lawyer, Wren Herbert cannot separate his personal ethics or lack thereof, from his professional ethics and conduct.

• Wren Herbert was acting professionally when he undertook the agreement to either return the vehicle or repay the loan.

• Who else has been damaged by Wren Herbert as lawyer?

Ernest Jackman: WHO ARE YOU?

Submitted by Sunshine Sunny Shine

WHO IS ERNEST JACKMAN?

WHAT IS HIS BACKGROUND IN THE BARBADIAN LEGAL SYSTEM?

HAS HE EVER WENT BEFORE THE BAR ASSOCIATION FOR MISCONDUCT OR MISAPPROPRIATION OF CLIENTS FUNDS?

HOW MANY CLIENTS HAVE LAID COMPLAINTS AGAINST THE NAME OF THIS LAWYER?

WHAT CONNECTIONS DOES HE HAVE THAT AFTER SEVERAL COMPLAINTS AGAINST HIM HE CAN STILL PRACTICE LAW?

WHAT RECOURSE DO BARBADIAN CITIZENS HAVE AGAINST LAWYERS LIKE ERNEST JACKMAN WHO WITHHOLD THEIR MONIES?

IS THE BARBADOS BAR ASSOCIATION A MERE FRONT FOR LAWYERS AND THEIR WRONGDOINGS?

WILL THE GOVERNMENT OF BARBADOS ASK FOR INVESTIGATION INTO CLAIMS AGAINST ERNEST JACKMAN?

DO BARBADIAN CITIZENS SUCH AS THE LATE STEPHEN JACKMAN HAVE RIGHTS UNDER THE CONSTITUTION OF BARBADOS TO BRING LAWYERS SUCH AS ERNEST JACKMAN BEFORE AN ESTABLISH TRIBUNAL?

Ernest Jackman must account for the 2.4 million he withhold from the late Stephen Archer. The Barbados Government should offer assistance in this matter. All others such as the Bar Association, the Utility Company, the Family of Stephen Archer and any others with connections to this case needs to be CALLED TO ACCOUNT!

Ernest Jackman: WHO ARE YOU, WHAT ARE YOU-COME FORTH


Click image!

Open Letter to ALL Rh Lawyers on behalf of Stephen Archer

The Barbados Today Editorial of September 26, 2019 reproduced here by request.

Several of these so-called traditional media outlets scrape stories from various social media sites without giving credit, for this reason the blogmaster reluctantly post this editorial.

For years Barbados Underground has been highlighting the ‘malbehaviour’ of lawyers and the dysfunctional justice system – see BU Lawyers in the News Section at the top of the page. In fact when we started the probing of the justice system many condemned this blogmaster as being unpatriotic. Our persistent criticism was interpreted as being negative. This blogmaster has lived to hear Chief Justice Marson Gibson and the Caribbean Court of Appear echo the same views.

Where is the moribund Barbados Bar Association (BBA)?

The name Stephen Archer might mean very little to those outside the circle of any close friends and family members he might have had. But his is a case that cries out for justice. This is yet another situation of an average Barbadian citizen being adversely affected by the type of dubious conduct that can accompany the vulnerable even to the grave.

Tomorrow morning Archer will be laid to rest in the churchyard of St Stephen’s Anglican Church just five months after publicly highlighting the tragic circumstances that befell him. He also drew attention to the representation – or lack thereof – of a well-known Barbadian attorney-at-law. Fifteen days after Archer celebrated his 30th birthday in 1997, a telephone pole fell on him occasioning him significant bodily injury.

Archer was taken to the United States to undergo treatment and physical therapy. While living in Miami, Florida, and now a paraplegic, he became homeless. His leg became infected as a result of his living circumstances and it was later amputated. He subsequently returned to Barbados and an initial hospital visit eventually turned into a four and a half-year residency at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. After leaving the hospital the bed-ridden Archer became a resident at Cyralene Senior Citizens Nursing Home at Accommodation Road, Spooners Hill, St Michael.

The utility company fulfilled its legal obligations to Archer and according to him paid a seven-figure compensation settlement to his attorney-at-law on his behalf. However, Archer revealed to Barbados TODAY in April that he was never given a cheque with his money nor was it ever deposited on his personal account. Despite the small fortune that his unfortunate accident had brought to him, Archer explained then that he still owed the nursing home $20 000 for eight months stay at the facility. He said the lawyer was handling his finances but had not paid any money to the home. “When I came here (nursing home), the idea was to save money to help my sister and fix the house in Cave Hill, but it backfired when the lawyer reduced how much I am getting so I ended up staying here a lot longer than I expected,” Archer revealed then.

Archer’s unfortunate situation was exacerbated as a result of his sister – who had been his main helper – dying in February from cancer. His mother who had initially been his principal caregiver had died from a stroke in 2009 while they were still in the United States. His was a life with little family support. He explained the mental and physical difficulty of being reduced from an independent, active, outgoing individual to one living in solitude and confinement in a bed with the occasional allowance out of his money coming from the lawyer.

With hundreds of thousands of his dollars sitting in the bank account of his lawyer, Archer was later reduced to starting a Help Stephen Archer Facebook page and the launch of a “gofundme” account. During his stay in the nursing home his three-bedroom, one bathroom family house at Well Gap, Cave Hill, St Michael was rendered an empty shell by burglars. Despite facing such immense personal hardship, a still optimistic Archer stated in April: “I am not worried, this is Barbados. In the States, I was homeless, in a wheelchair with maggots on me, but here in Barbados a lot of people know me so hopefully, it is not going to come to that. I have nothing to lose. When you are down the only direction to go is up. So I am waiting.”

Archer’s wait is now over. His direction did not take the upward curve he desired. But there are many questions left unanswered. And who will seek to have them answered? Archer had no children. Chief among those questions: Where is his money? Does his attorney-at-law still have the substantial amount on his own personal bank account? If he does, will he make any attempt to pass it on to existing family members, irrespective of how close or far removed they might be? Why did he not hand over all of Archer’s money when he received it or have it placed on his client’s personal account? Why were payments not made to Cyralene’s Senior Citizens Nursing Home in a proper manner? Does the Barbados Bar Association have any authority – or inclination – to launch an investigation into this matter? Is there any other agency willing to pursue this case? Will this be simply another case of a Barbadian lawyer benefiting from the funds of a client?

Perhaps it is time that in matters such as these, plaintiffs have greater oversight on the actual transaction between the defendant and legal counsel where compensation is due to be paid. Why are cheques written in the name of lawyers and not the clients they represent? Developments in Barbados’ courts over the years would suggest that not writing the plaintiffs’ cheques in the names of their lawyers might be protecting many from themselves.

Of course, none of this is going to help Stephen Archer now. But perhaps some of the mourners who pay their last respects to him tomorrow will ensure they are guarded against such anguish if similar tragedy should ever befall them.

 

Open Complaint Letter to Attorney General Dale Marshall and Chief Justice Marson Gibson About Attorney-at-law Peta-Gay Lee-Brace

Here is complaint received about yet another lawyer from an ordinary Barbados. From the supporting documentation this matter has been outstanding for close to a decade- if we start counting from 2011- when a letter to the Disciplinary Committee was lodged. Note this matter was highlighted on a BU in April, 2015.

See documents repeated via the File Complaints Against Lawyers —–> HERE initiative.

File Complaints Against Lawyers —–> HERE

There is one nettlesome complaint which keeps surfacing from Barbadians at home or abroad. It is always about lawyers wantonly violating standards of conduct as perceived in the court of public opinion and the ‘system’ repeatedly fail to redress.

These lawyers reallocate client’s monies, delay simple transactions to the detriment of clients financially, emotionally, illegally and otherwise. The result is that the reputation of the profession has been injured.

To heap on the issue for complainants is the inability of the Barbados Bar Association (BBA) and the Disciplinary Committee (DC) to discharge its mandate to satisfactorily treat with complaints submitted by general public.

The purpose of this update is to invite members of the public – through a simple process – to highlight matters submitted to the BBA or DC. In turn the blogmaster will track and highlight submissions in this medium and other social media platforms to ensure tension is exerted. The expectation is that parties named will see the benefit of resolving matters and be true to their moral and legal mandates.

This is a pilot project. Response from the public will determine next steps.

https://form.jotform.co/form/91072085340854

The blogmaster gives credit to PUDRYR for his input which led to the creation of this initiative.

Barbadians Cry Out as Barbados Bar Association Continues to Protect Crooked Lawyers and Dysfunctional System

Liesel Weekes

On many occasions in which clients have brought disciplinary proceedings against their attorneys for misappropriating or unduly withholding their funds, once the funds have been repaid the client is no longer interested in pursuing the matter at the disciplinary committee – .Liesel Weekes, President of the BAR

The President of the Barbados Bar Association (BBA) Liesel Weekes delivered from legalese text last week an insensitive rebuttal to the public. It is no secret lawyers have withheld client funds, misappropriated client funds, ‘misplaced’ important documents, been unresponsive and unprofessional. Weekes found the time to steadfastly defend her Association as any lawyer is trained to do.

She stated that unless members of the public presented evidence the ‘talk’ about lawyers being crooked is not sufficient to discipline the lawyer being accused. What Weekes and her predecessors have failed to do is update the public on the following just to name a few items:

  • The date complaint was received and responded to by the Barbados Bar Association/Disciplinary Committee
  • The number of complaints received and the number actioned by the BBA/Disciplinary Association
  • Give a listing of the nature of the charges contained in the complaints received by the BBA/Disciplinary Committee
  • How many complaints were not followed by the BBA/Disciplinary Committee because accused lawyers frustrated the process
  • Provide an Ageing Report’ of complaints outstanding with the BBA/Disciplinary Committee

No we do not accept that as President of the BBA Ms. Weekes has no idea the status of complaints lodged with the Disciplinary Committee. A commonsense approach would have been to have the Chairperson of the Disciplinary Committee append to the statement issued by Weekes.

Barbados Underground over the years has posted many blogs to highlight a dysfunctional court system including the ancillary services. The blogmaster is aware the BBA and Disciplinary Committee have not been given the resources to provide a quality service to the public. In fact one would deem it a nobrainer given the volume of complaints about the legal system from the public at home and abroad that successive governments would have addressed the matter. One is therefore left to assume tthe obvious.

At the town hall meetings in Canada recently Prime Minister Mia Mottley – a lawyer- admitted that the justice system is failing those who are forced to seek justice. A Barbadian in the diaspora also shared an experience with David Ellis last week where he travelled from overseas to attend a hearing in Barbados and he was not notified that the lawyer defending the matter would have been unavailable.

Over the years the blogmaster has observed some of our ‘best’ lawyers elected to the role of President of the BBA or appointed  to Chair the Disciplinary Committee. However,  service to the general public has not improved. Despite many of our ‘best’ lawyers having been elevated to become members of parliament and ministers of government where they have the opportunity to influence policymaking.

In the same way the BBA is always quick to comment on legislation harmful to the power brokers, why not recommend a change to the law that would permit the Crown to prosecute lawyers accused of stealing clients funds when there is evidence monies were repaid? The practice of lawyers repaying monies to clients on condition they do not prosecute is immoral and continues to compromise the justice system. Michael Carrington the former Speaker of the House is a good example.

To the lawyers that are members of the government- enough is enough!

Relevant links:

Tales from the Courts

Barbados Bar Association Not Helping Ordinary Barbadians

The blogmaster has been observing more and more cases of ‘ordinary’ Barbadians seeking justice for inequities meted out to them with the system failing them when they attempt to seek redress. Whether it is the Office of Public Counsel, FTC, FSC, Ombudsman and the others.

In the case of the Justin and Brunetta McIntosh CV1399/2008 matter this is another example – this time – it is the Barbados Bar Association.

The BU family would have read about the plight of the McIntoshes in the BU blog posted in July of 2013.

Not a surprise to the blogmaster, we have had to return to the matter last week:

For the avoidance of doubt to address if the plaintiffs in this matter exhausted the recommended channel (s). See response from the Barbados Bar Association.

Mcintosh_Bar

When the McIntoshes received the Bill of Cost from attorney Bernadette Callender with 7 days to pay, They referred the matter to the then acting Registrar to solicit advice. After discussing the matter with them, the Registrar telephoned Bernadette Callender in the presence of the plaintiffs.

In summary: Bernadette Callender said if the McIntoshes withdrew the decision to dismiss her as the standing attorney, she would continue the case. Because the McIntoshes wanted to see the matter completed, they agreed.

However, after the new Registrar’s Conveyance was put in place and signed off by the McIntoshes, they received word from Bernadette Callender that she will not be going any further with the case.

The blog of last week highlighted that Bernadette Callender  continues to holds the McIntoshes’ file until she is paid.

Negotiations were made with her to receive money from CIBC FCIB for her services in connection with the foreclosure suit. After the sale of the property, she would be paid monies due after the taxation matter. She consented and promised the standing attorney she would make copies of the files and turn over the originals. The McIntoshes gave consent and she was paid for her services where the foreclosure is concerned. She delivered the conveyance to CIBC FCIB. After that Callender insisted on full payment and advised that she would file for taxation, explaining, that she would be the best person to file because she was the attorney that dealt with the suit.

The blogmaster was advised since 2015 Bernadette Callender mentioned filing for taxation but it was never done.

Bernadette Callender take notice – BARBADOS UNDERGROUND will continue to recycle this matter until there is resolution. The longer it remains outstanding the more familiar Google and other Internet search engines will be made familiar with YOUR name and deed.

THE BALL IS IN YOUR COURT.

Fee Setting by Legal Profession and other Associations Left Unchecked by Successive Governments

The following was posted to the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) website in July 2008. It is not necessary for the blogmaster to cover the below with comments except to say, ‘we not ready’.

See FTC recommendations on page 26 of the document embedded.

In 2007, the Commission began a follow-up inquiry into fee setting in the professions focusing especially on the schedule of legal fees for non-contentious matters.

The Commission had previously found that mandatory fees set by professional associations were in breach of the Fair Competition Act. However it stopped short of making the same finding in regard to non-contentious fees because they were set in statute. The Commission however determined that the schedule of legal fees for attorneys at law, represented a conflict with the principles of fair and open competition as advocated in the Fair Competition Act.

The Commission therefore has formally recommended that an amendment be made to the Legal Profession Act 1997, so that the fees charged for non-contentious matters can be recognised as being provided for reference only, and attorneys wishing to charge above or below these fees, being able to do so without reprisal.

This will resolve the conflict between the two statutes, and should allow for some competition in the legal profession.

See Fee Setting in the Professions II:  Follow-up Report. [pdf]

Closed July 2008

Justice Pamela Beckles Rules COMPULSORY Membership in the Barbados Bar Association is Unconstitutional

Justice Pamela Beckles recently ruled in a matter brought by former Bar president Tariq Khan versus Vonda Pile that compulsory membership in the Barbados Bar Association is unconstitutional. The Bar Association has signaled that the matter will be appealed. The following Barbados Underground blog which highlighted the matter was posted in April of 2013.

Non Membership in the Barbados Bar Association Does Not Preclude a Lawyer’s Right to Practice Law

Marston Gibson, Chief Justice (l) Andrew Pilgrim, President of Barbados Bar Association

Marston Gibson, Chief Justice(l) Andrew Pilgrim, President of Barbados Bar Association

BU has been provided with a copy of the letter dated April 4, 2013 by which the Chief Justice finally advised the new Queens Counsel that he had received the Letters Patent that the GG had executed and sent to the CJ some weeks previously, instructing that they be delivered. The GG had also officially informed the new Queens Counsel himself of their appointment, from which time they had the right to put the letters QC after their names. Do not expect Chief Justice Gibson to offer an explanation for the delay.

BU has also been provided with a legal opinion on the matter of mandatory membership of the Barbados Bar Association, on which it has been argued, in essence, that there is a requirement that attorneys who are certified to practice law in Barbados must also be members of the Barbados Bar Association. BU’s legal opinion states that, as such an Act breaches the Constitution, it is a nullity ab initio, as indeed is any law which breaches the Constitution. Otherwise, the Constitution, which requires a two third majority of the House to change it, would be held hostage to the much lower standard of a simple act of parliament, which requires merely a majority. This would compromise the rights of Bajans and infringe their liberties. Pursued, it could also potentially lead away from democracy to dictatorship.

Thus, the list produced recently by the Bar Association of those counsel who have not paid their membership fees, is not relevant to right to practice law. As long as those attorneys have certification (and a complete list is available from the Official Gazette updated yearly) those attorneys have the right to practice that cannot be gainsaid by the Bar Association.

The Bar Association list has been generally interpreted and presented in the Fourth Estate and the blogs as being a denial of rights to practice by those attorneys and BU posts this clarification. The suggestion or implication that these attorneys, provided they have current practice certificates, are not eligible to practice law is potentially legally actionable.

BAR and BLP Politics

“Can you please make public these two articles in the interest of all Barbadians” – Mark Jones

The Barbados Bar Association has been recently getting itself involved in a number of matters that have caused us to question whether it has now become an official arm of the BLP!

It is significant that the past president Wilfred Abrahams whose election to office as a junior lawyer was orchestrated by former BLP Attorney General and Chief Justice David Simmons and and the present president, another junior lawyer Lissel Weekes are colleagues in the same law chambers and the Association under their leadership has shown a recent eagerness to mount challenges to legislation passed in our Parliament. The matter of the registration of non Barbadians by the Electoral Department has come up before the law courts for determination and the matter has ended up before the Court of Appeal where the decision has been reserved; in the language of the law the matter is SUB JUDICE.

But to the amazement of many Abrahams along with his political allies from the Bar convened a press conference at  no less a place than the headquarters of the Association in Perry Gap to discuss the matter contrary to all the conventions of the legal profession. It was significant that in a story appearing in one of the newspapers where he and his colleagues were photographed at their conference he was quick to point out that the event was not political; one wonders if a question leading to that response was posed by the press.

However, it must be a cause for concern that the Bar Association’s facilities could be used by a politician to mount an exercise that is against the very practice which the Bar should be promoting,  refraining from entering into public discussion in matters which are before the law courts. The general membership of the Bar should therefore be calling on its president and executive to give an account of this willful break from a tradition that has been respected by members of the legal profession all these years. In addition the executive must be called upon to respond to the concern of many among the profession, namely that Abrahams with the concurrence of his associate has been dragging the Association into the realm of party politics in this country.

It is also noticeable, that like the BLP, the Bar Association has not lifted its voice in concern of the problems that have been plaguing its members in their day to day experiencing in that work building because of its faulty structure and general lack of facilities that go to make the practice of law comfortable in any court.

The Bar Association has certainly lost is way and its membership should be duly concerned.

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A notable feature of the Supreme Court building fiasco is the conspicuous absence of ANY comment from the opposition BLP or its leader on the matter.

This is significant because the BLP never lets slip an opportunity to expose the alleged ineptitude of the DLP Government in maintaining its buildings and other projects even though they were conceived and built before they took office.

One glaring example is the South Coast Sewage Treatment Plant which had the BLP wallowing in the sewage in order to criticise the Government for its lack of adequate maintenance.

Of course recent disclosures have led to the conclusion that sabotage has been one of the main reasons for the the problems of the   plant after all kinds of foreign objects that cannot be flushed by any known toilet or sink or drain were used to sabotage the system.

The items range from sheets and pillow cases, to beach towels and concrete both in the poured form and concrete the block form.

All of these items are still being being plucked from the system.

Barbadians should therefore be made aware why there has been such a marked silence about the matter at the Supreme Court of Barbados.

The facts are as follows.

It was planned and built under the tenure of Mia Mottley as the Attorney General ( even though she does not own a LEC ) and her cousin David Simmons Attorney General and later Chief Justice of Barbados.

And you would not believe it that the project manager was one Arnold McIntyre the Godfather of David Simmons’ son to whom the whopping salary of Bds $ 40,000.00 per month was paid to manage a project that has all the faults we have been hearing complaints being made about.

If this is not nepotism and downright CORRUPTION at the highest level we don’t know what is.

Simmons has been having a very loud voice in public affairs recently!! maybe he can speak out on the involvement of his cousin Mia Mottley and friend McIntyre in the disaster at White Park Road for which the burdened tax payers now have the responsibility to put right.

Let him speak up on this matter ! let the opposition also speak up.

The public is eagerly awaiting to hear from them.

Was the Tax Clearance Certificate Brouhaha Necessary?

The brouhaha surrounding the requirement by the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) to request a tax clearance certificate as part of closing a property transaction seems to have gone the way of the day 7-day news cycle. The issue was brought to a head when the Barbados Bankers Association flexed its not too considerable influence by taking a decision to suspend the processing of ALL loans involving the transfer of property. It should be noted that three of the banks in Barbados are Canada based and the other two Trinidad.

The decision by the Barbados Bankers Association triggered a torrent of of public commentary. The government spokes-persons led by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler took careful aim at those critical of the decision to amend the Barbados Revenue Act. To quote Sinckler, “It is rather unfortunate that some banks and some lawyers in Barbados are hell-bent on frustrating government’s legitimate attempts to collect the tax revenue that is due to the state by their clients”. The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) shared the view that “the Act would cause total and complete chaos in the lives of citizens and businesses conducting ordinarily routine transaction”. The Barbados Bankers Association to support its decision indicated that there was “a lack of clarity on the process that are required in order to comply with the Act. As such commercial banks have been experiencing significant delays in disbursement of mortgages and other credit facilities that require security over real estate…”.

Of interest to BU is the position taken by the Barbados Bar Association (BBA).

All issues debated in Barbados these days are expected to take a predictable turn and with a general election on the horizon the political rhetoric has been cranking up. It is one of the peeves of the BU household that a society which claims to be well educated is always inclined to distil issues through a political lense. Maybe we are not that educated after all.

The Barbados Bar Association was very clear in its review of the amendment to the BRA Act i.e. that the requirement to seek a tax clearance certificate labels debts owned to the government as first charge on land. The uncertainty comes whether the amendment addresses the potential for challenge as it relates to the transfer of land. The general public is not expected to appreciate that there are four Acts affecting this issue; Excise Tax, Income Tax, Land Tax and VAT Act. The BBA’s opinion is that only taxes due under the Land Tax Act suit the definition of a first charge on land. According to lawyers trained in contract law the other three Tax Acts do not list a similar provision.

The objective of this blog is not to blind readers with the technical. It is to ask why did this matter have to become contentious.

Those of us who listened to the the 2017 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals delivered by Minister Chris Sinckler would have had to listen carefully to hear when he mumbled that representatives of the BRA and Bankers Association met and agreed changes will be made to allay the concerns of the bankers. The BU household has been patient to wait for details coming out of the meeting.

The public deserves to be told why this matter was allowed to become contentious. Why did commercial banks take the decision to suspend property transactions totalling over two hundred million dollars and as a consequence cause emotional and financial stress on Barbadians. Was the draft amendment to the BRA Act widely circulated before being proclaimed? What is the role of the media to inform an ignorant public.

Donville Inniss is Correct, Barbados Bar Association Part of the Problem

On 30 July, Barbados Today reported on the comments of Donville Inniss and the response by the Bar Association’s (BA) new president, Liselle Weekes.

BU has long stressed the necessity of removing from the BA all matters disciplinary and responsibility for the Compensation Fund. Therefore, Mr Inniss’ comments are welcome, if a little late. Mr Inniss proposes, “…the establishment in law of a new legal services council – similar in structure and form to that of the medical council; a council that comprises of members of the legal profession and individuals who may not be attorneys; a council that is supported not just by statute, but also by the resources of the state.”

See related links:

 BU recommends to Mr Inniss that he takes a look at the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) of England and Wales, as we have repeatedly suggested. This is a body with the power to fully regulate and discipline solicitors AND to make payments out of the Compensation Fund. It is separate and distinct from the Law Society of England and Wales, which is England and Wales’ version of our BA. The SRA has not only the power to discipline and to compensate, but also to step in if they have reason to believe that a firm is not acting properly, so as to protect the consumer.

In Barbados, the qualifications to practice law and be issued a practicing certificate is a legislative decision, unlike in England and Wales where such a decision devolves on the Law Society of England and Wales. The disciplining, however, falls on the SRA. In addition, the SRA can discipline on its own authority and does not refer the matter to the courts unlike the BA that must refer matters to the Court of Appeal.

On the SRA website, it provides a list of the members of its disciplinary committee, along with a brief resume of each. And surprise, surprise! A large percentage of them are NOT lawyers. Ms Weekes’ spurious claim, “I am not certain that those persons would be in a better position to interpret what is a breach of the Code of Ethics than the attorneys-at law who currently sit on it,” is asinine. Take a look at the Code of Ethics of the BA and then honestly say if you do not think that a senior student at one of our schools could interpret them.

The cases before the disciplinary committee that enter the public conscience always involve an element of criminality, like fraud and theft. And if the DPP got off his ass and prosecuted the malefactors, would they be tried by lawyers, or a jury of their peers taken from all walks of life and professions?

Ms Weekes blathers about her favourite “get out of jail” word “perceptions”. Ms Weekes, the “perception” of the majority of Barbados agrees with Mr Inniss when he posits, “If we are truly to have a legal profession in Barbados, as opposed to just . . . a collection of lawyers, then we as a society and you as lawyers, must unshackle your minds and help create a system that not just sustains faith in your profession, but also enhances the profession.”

Mind you, if the Bar Association does not determine the qualifications by which practicing certificates are issued; has no authority over to whom they are issued; cannot constitutionally enforce membership of the BA; cannot actually discipline; and loses authority over the Compensation Fund…..what exactly is its function, other than running a website and e-mailing court lists provided by the Registrar to BA members only, instead of forcing the Registrar to e-mail the lists to all those with practicing certificates?

Ms Weekes makes a valiant effort to hide behind the useless amendments to the Legal Professions Act but fails to record just how long the BA has taken to get back to the Attorney General with its views on these useless amendments.

BU really hates to apportion credit to Donville Inniss but fair is fair. Now, let us see what he does about this matter BEFORE the next elections, so we can know whether his sentiments are real or political. For if he is genuine and “puts his money where his mouth is” he will actually have made a big difference. The icing on the cake would be Bhana being cited for a breach of the chicken wing laws of Barbados.

Tales from the Courts – Adriel Brathwaite #bajanswantchange XXX

The latest report emanating from Adriel Brathwaite on amendments to the Legal Professions Act has appeared in several news outlets. For those who have not read about it, here is one such report.

The truth is that these amendments will be as much use as trying to stick a plaster on a gaping abdominal wound. They are merely a political ploy to make it look as if Adriel Brathwaite is actually doing something so that the electorate will feel that he is deserving of his salary as an MP. And, of course, allowing him – some refer to him as Nitwit – to jump on the BU bandwagon in decrying the BA and the entire justice system, which now has come into fashion in politics as if it is the idea of each and every politician who spouts off about it. We have never heard one of them give BU any credit – but never mind, we can live with that – we are an anonymous blog and service to the country.

A quick look at how things operate in other jurisdictions, a look that Brathwaite could have taken himself, provided he is computer literate.

ENGLAND AND WALES: 

In England and Wales, the qualifications to practice as a solicitor are determined by the Law Society, which as a result vests in the Law Society the right of discipline, without recourse to any Court of Appeal – although the solicitor concerned can appeal a decision by the Law Society.

Here is what the Law Society has to say on its website about complaints. These complaints can also be made directly to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA). We recommend that everyone read this link and advert your particular attention to the part dealing with the Compensation Fund, which will resonate loudly with far too many dissatisfied clients in Barbados. It will also be noted that the SRA has the authority to close a firm and take possession of its accounts and documents, so that if, for example, a solicitor is withholding your documents, the SRA can and DOES force that solicitor to give them back to you.

In England and Wales, the Law Society also mandates that solicitors are obliged to take out professional indemnity insurance.

ONTARIO: 

The Law Society of Upper Canada determines who and who cannot practice law in Ontario and, therefore, determines and applies disciplinary measures – see link.

The LSUC also has a Compensation Fund. However, be warned that, lacking an organization such as the UK’s SRA, in Ontario it takes ages for complaints to be addressed and dealt with, which is why they fudge the issue on their website and therefore for the Compensation Fund to kick in.

It is also to be noted that all Ontario solicitors must have personal liability insurance cover through LawPro. This insurance in both the UK and Ontario, provides that if you take a lawyer to court and win, it pays not only the lawyer’s legal fees and your legal fees, but also, up to a certain amount (I believe it is the equivalent of BBD$1.25 million) of any awards the court might make.

So compensation for the aggrieved and the costs of obtaining redress, other than trying to fruitlessly pursue and bankrupt attorney, is addressed by these countries.

BARBADOS

In Barbados, the BA does not determine qualifications or to whom practice certificates are issued. That is the right of the executive. And it is clear that membership of the BA is certainly not mandatory The BA cannot discipline, but may only make recommendations to the Court of Appeal. This prolongs an already retarded and cumbersome process.

Why can the Legal Professions Act (in Brathwaite’s amendments) not establish under the same authority that determines qualifications and issues practicing certificates, a disciplinary body with the power to enforce disciplinary measures? It isn’t nuclear science is it?

The truth is that as it stands, the BA has cocked up the whole concept of the Disciplinary Committee. The Legal Professions Act specifically states that members of the Committee are to be “NOMINATED” by the executive. However, guess what? The BA’s executive does not nominate members, it has them elected by the membership, no doubt preparing those aspiring to be members of the DC for later general elections.

The framers of the Act showed great wisdom in using the word “NOMINATE”. It allows for lack of conflict of interest in that it allows the executive to NOMINATE retired judges and attorneys, rather than having brethren sit in judgement on fellow brothers. It is also true to say that the senior attorneys NOMINATED ought to have extensive criminal law experience, as they have far more experience with the weighing and assessment of evidence. This too is common sense, as long as you know the difference between “nominate” and “elect.

At the end of the day, the only amendments to the Legal Professions Act that stand a chance of dealing with the matter of discipline is to remove it completely from the BA and into the purview of the authority that determines who can and who cannot practice law in Barbados and to give that authority the right to discipline without recourse to the Court of Appeal and also to give it the Compensation Fund to administer and make payments out of. Otherwise, the general public will think that these Nitwit amendments are merely designed for political gain and mileage and will not benefit them at all – and they will be RIGHT!

However, there is absolutely nothing that says that the Legal Professions Act cannot establish a separate entity, not under the umbrella of the BA, to deal with disciplinary matters and with the Compensation Fund and to disbar without having to waste more time going to the Court of Appeal (or, more commonly, not) after decisions that at best smack of bias.

So Mr. Attorney General now that you know how it works in other countries feel free to use BU to lobby and put on pressure for workable amendments to the Legal Professions Act, instead of just a political sticking plaster on a gaping abdominal wound.