Neither the Barbados Bar Association (BBA) nor the police can take action against crooked lawyers if their clients who have been wronged do not come forward.
So says president of the association Liesel Weekes, who admitted that while there had been ‘talk’ of certain lawyers being dishonest, evidence had to be presented to justify those claims and to have that judicial officer punished.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Weekes revealed that while there was no “magic number” of offences before an attorney could be disbarred, she said a lawyer could lose their licence to practice law after committing just one offence.
However, she said it was important for the victim to follow through with their complaint.
“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.
“So until the matter is properly ventilated and the disciplinary committee is in a position to make a determination so that recommendations for sanction can be made to the Court of Appeals, the attorney is going to continue to practice. So if the client withdraws the charge as soon as he gets back his money, there is no sanction because the disciplinary committee has not heard the claim,” Weekes told Barbados TODAY.
She maintained that sanctions could not be brought against any lawyer without proper evidence.
“You can hear somebody say this particular attorney has been guilty of taking a client’s money before, but where would I have empirical evidence of that? He or she has not been investigated and I don’t have any evidence on which I can say that I know for a fact that he or she has stolen money. Nobody has come to me and presented any evidence, so therefore, that attorney will be allowed to continue practicing,” Weekes pointed out.
She explained that while she was president of the association, she was not privy to any of that information as it was dealt with specifically by the BBA’s disciplinary committee.
Weekes said while the committee nor the Court of Appeal could impose a term of imprisonment, that option was still available to clients via of the law court.
And while she said until those lawyers were proven guilty they would be able to continue practicing, if they were convicted it would result in automatic disbarment.
“Imprisonment is not a sanction that is available under the Legal Profession Act or disciplinary rules. Imprisonment would have to be as a result of a prosecution in the courts in the ordinary way.
“So that it is open to a client at anytime that he has been defrauded of his money or that his monies have been misappropriated, that he goes to the police and makes a report and we know that there are a couple of those cases out there,” Weekes disclosed.
“We know that people have gone directly to the police and have made claims and that police have arrested and charged attorneys and that their matters have come on and that they are on bail. There are a couple of attorneys who are on bail now for those offences.” [email protected]
13 Replies to “Reluctant complainants”
I made a complaint to the disciplinary committee for an attorney and to this present day I have heard nothing I provided all the evidence and nothing he took advantage of my ignorance
Why is anyone surprise that no one complains, against certain people in Barbados , because the big thing is them and us , who you are where you live and who you know, putting that altogether, makes people scared as well…..
All this claim of democracy, is a big joke , Barbados is an island you are kept in line and you must know your place…..
Lots of bajans condemn Jamaica, but in Jamaica anyone who breaks the law is arrested, don’t care who you are, in Barbados they wouldn’t even bother……
So you’re admitting that you know of the crime, but because the victim does not pursue it, neither do you.
Makes perfect sense.
It is a WELL KNOWN FACT that some LAWYERS hold on to clients MONEY to garner INTEREST for as LONG AS POSSIBLE and keep it there even further if the client dies.
When one complains to the BAR ASSOCIATION they too keep it there FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE then to say they doing this and that and that is usually after the particular Lawyer has already” MILK’ enough interest.
WEEKS says…. So if the client withdraws the charge as soon as he gets back his money, there is no sanction because the disciplinary committee has not heard the claim,”
WEEKS….withdraw the CHARGE? who was the CHARGE made to in the FIRST PLACE?…not the DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE of the BAR ASSOCIATION? so are YOU telling me that after the client has FINALLY gotten
HIS money, he gine GO BACK to the SAME DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE of the BAR ASSOCIATION… to DO WHAT?
Those people who have gone directly to the POLICE are those who did so AFTER they had made complaints to the DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE and NO ACTION was taken, being TAKEN or delayed for an extended time in an effort to give the LAWYER more time to see if he/she can ‘get way with it ‘
WEEKES ,you are a LAWYER that means YOU are QUALIFIED to TALK LEGAL MATTERS…..but one does not require a degree for people to acquire COMMON SENSE and to see what is going on wid some a wunna.
Politricks is a lawyer’s paradise. Put politicians and lawyers in a barrel, throw in some economists, Peter Wickham, Dr.George Brathwaite, and the inept existing media practitioners, and the barrel will top up with feces all of them produce, from both holes.
That JOHHNY seems unable to express himself without reverting to a lot of SH8 talk,below the belt comments and insults.
Sagaboy ,how come you are not complaining to BT about his conduct here the same way you had complained about HARRY TURNOVERS’ conduct?is it because he is a fellow yard fowl or wha?
Bajans still operate on “WORD OF MOUTH”. In this “NEW WORLD” you must have a “receipt”, a paper trail to follow. When doing business,
EVERYTHING MUST BE IN WRITING cos as we now finding out “ya can’t trust a fells”.
If anything is sent tru the post office make sure it is “registered”.
Better safe than sorry.
CAN’T & DON’T TRUST A FELLA.
No more of “the Lord gine take care uh he”.
Really? Lawyers are bound by Oath….
I, [full name of applicant] of [address] in the parish of [ ] in this Island being a person this day admitted to practise law DO SWEAR that I will truly and honestly conduct myself in the practice of law as an Attorney-at-Law according to the best of my knowledge and ability and the Laws of Barbados.
I truly and honestly conduct myself….Then subequently break that oath…..they already know the Law so why should clients have to go to a police station and report the theft there. Lawyers are told to pay back the money and go back to their jobs when they know and whoever knows they broke their oath and SHOULD NOT go back to being a Lawyer after paying back the money as they proved their dishonesty !!
In addition, everyone in Bim is frightened to open their mouths against Lawyers and anyone in high positions. People are crying they are victimised, I dont see those at the top ENCOURAGING clients complain to the police.
I think Bim needs to reinforce people’s rights to complain against those in higher positions, when is that ever going to happen. People would rather suffer in silence bcos of the fear of complaining and why is that stigma here but not in other countries.
Lock up all, poor and rich dishonest people….that is the only way you will cut this out of society. Most people know Bajans dont complain and they know they reason why so those in high places take chances. No complaint no crime !!
Its about time those in high places see things from both points of view. Who is there to represent the poor person. Who can you go to in Bim and get representation? Who can the citizens really complain to? There should be an independent body, the police themselves are frightened of people at the top. Get serious and do the right thing by the citizen. Everything in Bim is swept under the carpet and not taken seriously. People are fed up of the one-sided system in Bim that allows Lawyers and those at the top come out on top ALL THE TIME !! Ridiculous !!