Attorney-at-law Vonda Pile might have lost her freedom, but there still remains a slim possibility she may not lose her licence to practice law.
The 56-year-old Pile was yesterday found guilty in the Supreme Court of stealing US$96,008.22 (BDS$191,416.39) from former client Anstey King.
It resulted in the lawyer, who has been practicing for the last 27 years, being remanded to HMP Dodds until July 16 pending sentencing.
Any lawyer who is convicted of a criminal offence faces the likelihood of being disbarred.
However, president of the Barbados Bar Association Liesel Weekes told Barbados TODAY it was not an automatic decision.
She revealed that Pile still had the right to appeal the decision.
“The Legal Profession Act makes no provision for automatic removal from the roll. There is a provision though for an application to be made with the leave of the Disciplinary Committee by anybody who is aggrieved by the act of misconduct which gives rise to a criminal conviction and on the basis of the criminal offence brings the profession into disrepute, then the Committee can then make a recommendation to the Court of Appeals,” Weekes said.
She also pointed out that the court could sentence Pile to be removed from the roll.
Interestingly, Pile is not a member of the Barbados Bar Association.
Back in 2015, then president of the Association Tariq Khan had asked the court to prevent Pile from practising law because her certificate was invalid since she had not paid her annual Bar subscription as required by law.
Pile had argued that she was not mandated to be a member of the association to practice law in Barbados.
In a landmark decision handed down last year, Justice Pamela Beckles ruled in favour of Pile, stating that compulsory membership of the Barbados Bar Association is unconstitutional.
However, Weekes revealed that the authority of the Disciplinary Committee extended beyond membership of the Bar.
She said the Committee had the right to discipline any lawyer who had been admitted to the roll.
Weekes said if Pile was not removed from the roll as part of her sentence, it was possible a recommendation could be made to have her suspended.
“The Disciplinary Committee does not have the authority to remove anybody from the roll or to impose any sanctions, the Court of Appeal does that.
“You might not be struck off [the roll] but you might be suspended for a number of years, but in the case of a criminal conviction it is likely that any recommendation coming from the Disciplinary Committee may be the most severe of the penalties,” the president said.
In February of this year Joyce Griffith was struck from the roll.
The decision was handed down by the Court of Appeal after she was found guilty of misappropriating the proceeds from the sale of property for a client.