Bar Association: Public having doubts about Barbados lawyers’ credibility. (No Kidding!)

barbados-lawyer-crook

Leslie Haynes QC, the President of the Barbados Bar Association, is whining in the Nation about how tough it is to be a lawyer these days when the public over-reacts to a few bad apples.

Our message for Mr. Hayes:

Everyone understands a few bad apples in any profession – it is the Bar Association’s long and sordid history of excusing thefts, covering up for the “old boys’ network” and failing to protect the interests of citizens that has the public concerned.

Oh for sure, the Bar Association has lately paraded a few crooked lawyers in public or before the courts, but that’s nothing compared to decades of the Disciplinary Committee going easy on their fellow lawyers and even welcoming them back with open arms after a few months “suspension” – while the lives of their victims are destroyed.

Let’s review a few stories and then open up the discussion, shall we?

Story 1: Barbados Bar Association Condones Theft From Clients – And Destroys The Reputation Of Honest Bajan Lawyers

“It has now been clearly established that the Barbados Bar Association does not consider it a big deal for a lawyer to steal $130,000 as long as the lawyer returns the money when caught. According to the Disciplinary Committee of the Barbados Bar Association, a simple reprimand is a suitable penalty.

No disbarment. No criminal charges. No Jail.”

Story 2: Disciplinary Committee of the Barbados Bar Association prove they are as incompetent as the lawyer appearing before them

“Attorney Balfour Layne and all the big-name lawyers of Disciplinary Committee of the Barbados Bar Association didn’t know the law – which is pretty pathetic by any standard…”

Story 3: Crooked Barbados Lawyers Being Charged With Theft Mostly By Foreigners: Bajan Global Report

“According to our friend at BGR, it is mostly foreign nationals who are taking crooked Bajan lawyers to court. Is this an indication that crooked Bajan lawyers target mostly foreigners – or that foreigners are more likely to be respected and protected by the police and courts than domestic victims?”

Story 4: Crooked Barbados Lawyers: Only One Arrested, Many Others Allowed To Walk Free… Why?

“Folks were recently surprised to read in the Nation News that a crooked Barbados lawyer had actually been criminally charged with stealing from clients. Usually the Barbados Bar Association does everything it can to “handle” such situations internally. By processing complaints of theft through the so-called disciplinary committee, the lawyers make sure that their own kind don’t get hurt too badly…”

Story 5: Barbados Court of Appeal says Thief Lawyer Mortimer Clarke OK to practice law.

“True to form, the old boys’ network reluctantly imposed only a nine-month suspension on a Barbados lawyer who was caught stealing $150,000 of client’s money from his “trust” account. Just to put this in perspective, anywhere in the civilized world a lawyer could expect a year or two in jail and permanent disbarment for similar activities. Not so in Barbados where the legal profession is apparently happy to accept Mortimer Clarke back into its welcoming arms after he has a little vacation. (”Pity you had a client complain, Morty old chap. We’ll have to make a show of it for a few months. Hope you understand.”)…”

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28 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Ethics

28 responses to “Bar Association: Public having doubts about Barbados lawyers’ credibility. (No Kidding!)

  1. theNickster

    They want to fix things? fire the chief Justice (or chief judge or what ever worthless title he affixes to himself). Watched this man go from lousy politician to lousy Judge now he’s some hideous ornament at the top of the corrupt tree. Talk about putting the mongoose in charge of the chicken coop.

  2. Hants

    What other profession allows you to have access to large amounts of money and control over the timelines governing the movement of the money.

    For example, it is my understanding that there is no incentive for Lawyers to conclude real estate transactions when they have Clients money in an account under the control of said Lawyer.

    The very Rich and Criminals get the best legal services in Barbados.

    The average person with a civil matter involving money are not so fortunate.

    I wonder where Lawyers store vital documents like Title Deeds. Hopefully in a waterproof, fireproof vault.

  3. 229.88

    Wow, typical Bajan behaviour. For once, the Bar Association is trying to take an active and visible stance on corruption within the profession and people happily shoot them down.

  4. Nostradamus

    A bigger problem than plain teefing is the total lack of ethics in the legal profession. At least when they teef you have a chance of criminal charges but when they act unethically and one lawyer in cahoots with another and their client is disadvantaged you will never get justice.

  5. 229.88

    It’s interesting to think that to become a lawyer in Canada or the States one literally has to bust one’s hump to get into law school in the first place. The undergrad degree, the LSAT’s plus the pressure of putting together an application package with personal statements and letters of reference(preferably from recognised academics) and a sterling CV usually separates the sheep from the goats.

    However, one submits a rather bare application in comparison to UWI straight out of secondary school to apply to the law faculty and because our government pays for our tertiary education, most of our youth just treat university like an extension of secondary school. Furthermore, UWI’s system that allows people to play the fool during the year, take supplementals during the summer and then still end up with a decent degree like a upper second honours is ridiculous! This whole manner in which our future lawyers are selected and trained has to be revised as the generation that is about to enter the profession generally see the law as about making money, not helping people.

  6. Thewhiterabbit

    98% of lawyers give the other 2% a bad image.

  7. Ruby Murray

    I would like to see some investigations in to what happens to interest on monies held by lawyers on behalf of their clients. I am informed that there is no requirement for lawyers to pay over interest to their clients. On a 1 million held on a property deal (at 5% interest rate) a lawyer would earn$12,500 evert 3 months! This is surely an incentive for lawyers to delay certain property deals or transactions. Great if you could look into this further.

  8. Cheryl Cox

    Wow!! This is really bad. The fact that this blatant criminal behavior is allowed to go on in BDOS is very disconcerting. i saw one comment that said that the laww only acts when it involves ‘foreigners’. 1) We are not foreign, we were born and bred there just like you only we have had the opportunity to experience how this type of behavior would be dealt with in other parts of the world. 2) We come there and file complaints with the Bar Association because you locals don’t!. You seem to be afraid of your shadows and let this madness continue. And this problem of lawyers not going against other lawyers…. what are they sworn to uphold in their profession? The law or the buddy friendships? In this age we should be much further than this. Please, thanks for exposing this criminal and corrupt behavior. My friend is still waiting on her $350,000 that her grandmother left her 11 years ago and her lawyer stole. Perhaps she felt that my frined did not need her own money because she lives in the USA.

  9. Hants

    In a couple weeks this will all be forgotten until another lawyer is charged with teifing.

    Good lawyers will continue to try to do good work.

    However the bad ones will keep stealing by using the archaic system for dealing with real estate,estate settlement and other civil matters.

    Bad lawyers in Barbados will continue working at a snail’s pace hoping that client’s die so they can have more control over people’s properties and settlements.

    Leslie Haynes QC, the President of the Barbados Bar Association, should be commended for making a statement that will make his collegues very angry.

    Deal with the message not the messenger.

  10. Anonymous

    Well said, Hants.

  11. Sargeant

    The PM is a lawyer; The deputy PM is a lawyer; The Leader of the Opposition is a lawyer and wunna expect changes? It will be a frigid day in Hades before any meaningful changes are implemented

  12. Anonlegal

    @Anonymous
    October 19, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    I agree with some of your points and disagree with others.

    As it relates to the law faculty, many people find it difficult to get accepted. If you are coming from High school only the very top A-level students get in. If you have a first degree, it generally has to be a stellar one (1st class Honors, Magna Cum Laude etc). The competition is steep and there are only about 20 spots reserved for Bajans at the law faculty (if even that).

    I also think you are placing too much stock in the US system (can’t really speak about the canadian system). There is definitely room for improvement in our system but I personally prefer our system (where there is five years of legal training) as opposed to the US system (where there is three years of legal training).

  13. Johnny Postle @

    Why would any one want to trust the legal fraternity on this island. First they need to stop being so darn arrogant and big headed and learn first some professional decorum.

  14. Doreen N

    Barbadians are very proud people and all lawyers should uphold the laws of the land. Friendship should never come into play when someone is breaking the law. I have travelled at length and we Barbadians are always known to be honest people. What are these lawyers trying to do to our reputations. To the guilty ones take heed.

  15. Hants

    The academic requirements at UWI are high but that does not mean they produce honest competent Lawyers.

    The problem in Barbados is that the legal system has serious flaws.

    It should not take several years to settle estates.

    Lawyers should not be allowed access to client’s money. That allows said lawyers the opportunity to steal.

    At the moment Lawyers can make money by delaying transactions so they can use client’s funds as an illegal loan fund.

    Then there is the “delay till duh die” and mek moh money.

    The sweetest “perk” of the legal profession is that Bajans pay their Lawyers for service, hand them money for transactions and then have to wait years and beg to get their work done or their money back.

    Leslie Haynes QC started this discussion. Let us hope that the lawyer journalists Jeff Cumberbatch and Stephen Alleyne can join the debate and help us understand why this convoluted legal system is allowed to continue enriching their collegues.

  16. reality check

    http://www.barbadosbarassociation.com/about_us.cfm

    Oh my God!

    They actually have a Code of Ethics?

    Does this mean that 90% of the lawyers and judges should immediately tender their resignation?

    Lets start with the members of the Bar Association and who are the benchers?

    Who is in charge of complaints? This will tell you a lot about why no rigorous challenging of bad conduct has occurred.

    They need to purge from the top.

  17. civilsociety

    I think the solution to this problem is to increase the number of lawyers out there. We restrict the numbers each year. I say open the gates, and train more lawyers to that there is this thing called “competition” out there. And, stop training famillies of lawyers. The selection process should be fair and open, and based not on who you are, but what you will become.
    I hope a whole bunch of lawyers are charged. It is about time we clean up this system.

  18. Hants

    I would like a Lawyer or lawyer journalist to explain why it takes years to settle an estate.

    Why it can take years to complete a real estate transaction.

    Why Lawyers have the opportunity to easily use or steal client’s money.

    My layman’s perspective is that the problem rests within a legal system that is archaic and has no defined time constraints for settlement of even the simplest transactions.

    Barbadians are “proud” people and are reluctant to publicise the problems they have with Lawyers.

    Prehaps the time has come to start a blog where we can post our legitimate complaints against Barbadian Lawyers.

  19. Dennis Jones (aka Living in Barbados)

    @civilsociety. If the current system cannot deal with the volume of legal cases, then more lawyers would merely worsen that. Even if you have more new lawyers can you create enough new judges/magistrates, and other staff, and courts to deal with more throughput?

  20. Sargeant

    Someone brought up the issue about lawyers benefiting from of funds held in Trust and I’d like to provide some insight on how these funds are dealt with in this jurisdiction. In Ontario all funds belonging to a client are kept in a separate account i.e. Trust account. This means that all funds held for Real Estate transactions should be deposited to that account. All lawyers have a secondary account (General) in which their fees are deposited and from which expenses are paid. If any fees accrue on the Trust account they are charged to the General account. That means that all the funds in the Trust account are the property of the beneficial owners until they are paid on the clients’ behalf. The Law Society of Upper Canada is the authority responsible for policing the activities of the Lawyers in Ontario and they have negotiated an agreement with the Banks to forward any interest accruing on the funds in the Trust Accounts to the Law Society’s account. This interest helps to fund the administration costs of the Law Society. If The Law Society suspects that there is something “fishy” about the operation of the lawyer’s Trust Account it has the right to go to his/her Bank and demand copies of statements to complete an audit of the account. Some lawyers have been suspended from practicing because of incomplete records pertaining to funds held in Trust accounts. The Law Society also maintains a fund to reimburse clients of lawyers who have been defrauded by members of the Legal community. In effect the Lawyer is not able to benefit from the interest earned in his Trust account.

    That said lawyers are disbarred annually in Ontario for various reasons including fraud and some opt to resign from the profession before they are requested to.

    And no; I am not a lawyer, not even close.

  21. True dat

    Lawyers and real estate agents in UK have to keep separate trust accounts, interest is for the account of clients and paid to them.

    These are audited and signed off, professionally.

    Any infraction and the individual is reported to the governing body for censure.

    Their monies are supposed to be earned by fees for services.

  22. Ruby Murray

    In the UK there are Solicitors Accounts Rules. Similiar rules should be applied here to any lawyers or solicitors that are entrusted with the monies of their clients. For further details refer to the following site for part c that relates to interest:

    http://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/code-of-conduct/accounts-rules/part-c-accounts-rules.page#p-c

    We can learn from such regulation being applied abroad. It is also important that there is appropriate tone from top being applied from the courts of Barbados and those organizations that oversee the profession. Theft should be a lifetime ban from acting as a lawyer. This is important to protect those good lawyers as well as clients.

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  24. Elvis11

    I am having problems with a land dispute in barbados even though a judgement was made in my favor an appeal was filed but that was four years ago every time a hearing date is set, as the time got closer for some reason it will be cancelled, I believe that some thing “fishy” is going on. who can I approach for help?

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