How many Bajan lawyers have accounts in the USA, UK, Switzerland or Canada?

barbados-lawyer-crookDear Barbados Free Press

I would like to speak about an experience here in Barbados with lawyers charging VAT to foreigner clients living abroad and demanding that their invoices be paid directly into to USA and Canadian Banks.

Has anyone else experienced this situation as happened to me???

(Name withheld by BFP)

24 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Crime & Law

24 responses to “How many Bajan lawyers have accounts in the USA, UK, Switzerland or Canada?

  1. Sue

    It is common for Law firms worldwide to have UK and US accounts primarily to facilitate ease of payments for their foreign clients and avoid the wire transfer hassles and bank charges. I however have not seen that practiced by many law firms but probably the larger or more common firms do. As it relates to VAT however, I was advised by the Barbados VAT office that as long as the service is being rendered in Barbados that VAT is payable unless it is an IBC company or equivalent which is being charged as they are exempt from vat. My landlord has changed by rental invoice to USD dollars but still charges me vat on the transaction and the monies are paid here. I believe someone from the VAT office would need to give some insight on this.

  2. Sue

    That should read “I personally however have not seen that practiced by many law firms or individual lawyers in Barbados but probably the larger or more common firms do”

  3. John Hanson 1781-1782, I SERVE 1788-1792 BARBADOES,

    These accounts have all the money of the people around the world they have stolen , What they sell that dont belong to them they just hide the money and claim , son they pay more than the cost, Crooks, liars and scumbags with no shame, no law, no DPP, no AG , No PM,No COP, no newspapers with the Balls to report these bitches out in the open , Hells doors are open just waiting for them,
    NAKED DEPARTURE – The Trilogy Series add on face book.

  4. Mark

    I’ve used a couple and each time, they insisted on money being transferred to a US bank and included VAT. Plus, from what I can see they all suck anyway. I mean, even an average lawyer in the US is better than any I’ve talked to in B’dos, and that’s a two digit long list at this point. And even if you find one that’s any good, Bdos doesn’t actually enforce most of its laws anyway. Plus, you’ve got repeated incidents where Bdos lawyers have been caught stealing client’s money and not been disbarred. Basically the entire justice system is a joke.

  5. robert ross

    And Mark…frankly so is your contribution.

  6. Sue

    Yes there are lawyers who have stolen clients’ monies, hands down but I don’t think it’s fair to put all 600+ of them (or so I’ve heard) in the same boat. They’re those who I’ve dealt with that are honest and explain every detail. As for the US and UK and even Canadian accounts some are legitimately set up to receive foreign monies for ease of the transaction but we can’t speak for everyone so of course they may be those that have them set up for illegitimate reasons.

    They’re bad doctors and good ones, bad contractors and good ones, bad engineers and good ones, bad bus drivers and good ones, bad teachers and good ones and so too they’re bad lawyers and good ones. To cut a long story short they’re good people and they’re bad people as at the end of the day they’re all people. Even people who post here aren’t 100% good either in one way or another. So some lawyers are bad and hide illegitimate monies and some are good who don’t.

  7. beaumont11

    Mark is absolutely correct, as with any profession, there will be those who simply are less than honest. To the question posed by BFP, One needs to ask the question, why would a lawyer, performing legal services in Barbados need to have the client living abroad, pay the fees to ‘wire’ funds to that lawyer’s US bank account? Or to have that bank in turn send the funds to a Barbados bank given that the client could just as easily wire directly to the Bank in Barbados? Does the Government of Barbados know or approve of this practice? Might it be a work around the Barbados Central Bank? Those deposits to the Barbados bank ‘through’ a foreign account held by the same lawyer allows that lawyers to claim for withdrawal foreign currency amounts equal to the deposits received. With respect to VAT, here again, why should a client living abroad, be responsible for paying VAT without benefit of a tax deduction in that clients native country? Here again the benefit of that VAT if reported as income along with client fees goes to the lawyer living in Barbados upon tax preparation and submission. As to the integrity of lawyers in Barbados; trust but verify.

  8. Sue

    The reason for the overseas account is that the overseas client can make a simple transfer from one bank to another rather than to pay for and arrange a wire transfer. Anyone who has done a wire knows it’s an administrative deal and time waster compared to simply depositing to someone’s account. It also prevents the loss of monies where wire transfers sometimes hit three banks before it reaches our shores. When the monies are finally sent here from the firm’s overseas account the central bank gains the benefit of the foreign currency and the lawyers pays the wire transfer fees and absorbs the loss. If the client is sending money for a purchase or financial investment it’s best for that client to send the monies straight to Barbados so that they can claim the benefit of having brought foreign exchange which in turn will ensure they can get that same foreign exchange out if they sell the property. Otherwise, paying in usd to simply pay fees or other transaction is neither here nor there and as I said it’s done by (and expected of) not just legal firms but all kinds of professional firms. I say this because I receive invoices every day from overseas professional firms and most give instructions of different bank details for paying in different currencies and the accounts are all in the name of the firm. What’s wrong with having an account in a place other than the jurisdiction in which you reside anyway? The only real issue is if the money is legitimate or not.

    As for vat, local individual persons don’t get the benefit of claiming for vat paid so why should a foreign person? The vat is chargeable to everyone on services rendered in Barbados, unless the entity being charged is vat exempt. As I said before someone from the vat office would have to say if all foreign clients are exempt. Otherwise it’s not fair to say that the lawyer is charging vat if he’s obliged to.

    Once again, there are thieves in every profession from cashiers to lawyers and persons utilizing legal services just need to have the same level of caution they’d use for any type of transaction.

  9. Sea Egg

    Robert Ross
    You have to admit that Mark is seeing things from his point of view. Why are you so “touchy”? From my own perspective, Mark is correct. Our justice is really a joke

  10. Sea Egg

    Should read: justice system

  11. Bimlady

    I agree Mark is correct, 50% of the lawyers in Barbados are Corrupt.
    Bimlady

  12. Anonymous

    Sue, there is no such thing as a ‘simple ‘ transaction or transfer between bank accounts in the usa except where the source and intended benefit account are held by same. When funds are wired, it is the sender who pays those fees to the benefit of the lawyer. Multiple transactions can add significant cost and is not tax deductible.
    With respect to The VAT changed, except there is a correlation of those deposits between Central bank and their office, there is no certainty that VAT paid by foreign clients is reported as such.

  13. Sue

    My comment was misread. What I meant was if you’re simply paying legal fees for a transaction other than a real estate purchase or foreign investment there’s no harm in paying it into a usd or UK account as long as the monies and account are legitimate.

    As for the bank charges, this was also misread. What I meant was, once the monies have been paid into the foreign account, the lawyer bears the cost I. E bank charges of getting it to Bim, not the client. If the client wires it both the client and the lawyer pay as the sending, intermediary and receiving bank charge fees.

    As for the vat, I go back to my original comment, it’s up to every professional to be honest and report the vat received. Some will and some won’t and we can never stop that just like how we can never stop a cashier from stealing.

    Yes our justice system can be a joke and yes lawyers who have stolen are still walking free but there’s another side to that story, the cases don’t go much further because the claimants take all kinds of bargains as settlements. That part of the story doesn’t get to the press but I know that for certain. I’ve also seen lawyers get disbarred and can’t practice but again that doesn’t get to the press. I don’t agree however that the media don’t report them as I’ve seen them do so especially in the last few years.

    On another note, we have to remember that the IRS and those tax agencies will be on them as account holders so they’d pay one way or another.

    Call a spade a spade but not every spade is a bent one.

  14. beaumont11

    Sue, I admire the strength of your comments. Here is a experience that I am aware of.. The lawyer had the client wire funds from the USA to a Canadian Bank and had that bank then wire the funds to a Barbados Bank. Fees for that transaction all paid by the US client.

    Might I ask Is there any possible explanation why the wire could not have gone directly from the USA bank to the Barbados Bank?

    Or did the funds ever leave the Canadian Bank, since most banks notify their clients of pending transactions before final transfer.

  15. Sue

    That scenario is fishy and doesn’t sound legit at all. It should either have gone to a U.S. account or straight to Bim. At the end of the day the client can choose how they’d pay. If someone asked me to wire US funds to a Canadian account and it’s a Barbadian firm I’d send the money directly to their local account or they’re not getting paid.

    All I can say is what I said at the beginning, a law firm having US or UK or Canadian accounts in its own name for the receipt of those currencies isn’t novel. The question is always are the monies and accounts legitimate. This is a known practice for decades and we can’t assume that because it’s not going to a Bajan account that something is wrong. If it’s going to a private account or several other accounts then something is wrong. Also the law firm should absorb the cost of receiving the money and the sender only pays his bank for the cost of the wire. If the law firm charges the client for receiving monies UNLESS it’s for disbursements where the exact monies are needed to be received then it’s not right either as that’s an administrative cost which the law firm must bear.

  16. beaumont11

    My sentiments exactly! We are in agreement.

  17. Mark

    Sorry if my comments offend you, Robert. But that’s my experience based on a fairly extensive sampling of local lawyers. It’s also consistent with many other business people I know who have similarly attempted to hire a Bdos lawyer/seek justice in Bdos. And the issues with ethical violations not being properly pursued is easily verified by anyone who can do a basic Google search. There are many things to love about Bdos, but the justice system isn’t one of them. You’re not helping anyone by pretending it’s not badly broken.

  18. Anonymous

    I think the problem with some of the lawyers is that they promise what they cannot deliver. There is also a peculiar accommodation among them that makes ‘seeking’ justice complicated because of their relationship. This is not an excuse for their poor performance. Compounding all that is the fact that the civil case backlog is extensive can add years to an outcome or court decision, a fact that they do not share with the client when presenting their retainer agreement. Consequently the client funds that law firm in the intervening years under the mistaken impression that there is actual progress in the case. After all paying fees should equate to progress, right?

  19. Sue

    Paying fees should equate to progress, yes, but that’s dependent on who’s responsible for the progress.

    I’ve learnt that lawyers don’t operate in a vacuum and need the timely support and response of the Courts, inland revenue departments, corporate affairs, ministry of international business, banks, town and country planning and all types of other service providers who can themselves cause a matter to extend unreasonably long. Not every matter is a court matter.

    I don’t agree that a lawyer needs to put on a retainer that a client will have a long court matter as that’s a risky statement. The length of the matter depends on the judge, the existing court schedule, the court system itself, the complexity of the matter, whether or not evidence is available, whether or not the client is cooperative and timely with responses and the provision of information, whether or not fees have been paid, whether or not …… . The court rules have changed and see cases coming to court faster I’ve learnt but the issue then becomes the speed at which the judge is willing to give a decision and that can vary and of course the speed at which the lawyer can and will work. They’re too many “if”s.

    The original comment was about lawyers having overseas accounts and charging Vat and I’d love to hear someone from the Vat office tell us whether or not an overseas client should be charged vat. I was told before that as long as the service is performed here and the client isn’t vat exempt that it’s chargeable.

    I’ve come to realise from seeing my lawyer operate that so much goes into doing law here it’s crazy. Lawyers here are expected to know just about everything in order to survive and to heavily specialise like in the U.S and U.K is a death sentence. So much reading and reading and reading of legal cases, evidence, research etc goes into just one case that it’s impossible to give the same attention to all their cases all at once and somebody has to wait. I learnt this from having to sit and help my lawyer put my trial bundle together, I have a new respect for her. Maybe if lawyers invited clients to do this, clients would understand. This means also that lawyers need to be straight up with clients and don’t over promise as the contributor before said and unfortunately too many of them do that.

    They’re good lawyers in Barbados and I know a few. They’re bad lawyers and I know them too. Then again they’re good people and bad people.

  20. Its only 99% of lawyers like those, that makes it bad for the remainder …..

  21. Anonymous

    I think that within the question posed about VAT, was the singular benefit to the lawyer and nothing to the client. ordinarily in the USA at least, when filing income taxes one is able to take such a deduction. But, since VAT is bundled with fees, its is next to impossible to credible claim as a tax deduction. Perhaps the overseas clients can have the lawyer issue a separate invoice for VAT that includes that lawyers tax ID for validity and thereby also benefit from the potential of a tax deduction.
    No one is suggesting that the retainer includes a time frame for completion, but when its known that the backlog in Barbados courts are years behind, that lawyer has an ethical obligation to disclose that information upfront. That way the client can consider alternatives option where possible.

    A simple example: If you were building a house, one would need a general idea. A time frame… to completion for that house. that included the elements and other variables. What is expected is that the contractor..in this case the Lawyers are experts working within a system that they know all to well. Thus a projection from start to finish is reasonable and should be given to the client. woefully, dealing with several law firms in Barbados, that subject of time and case load or severe backlog was never touched until after the fact. Yes, its discouraging but, this is the underlying reality of this countries judicial system and with it, allows the less than ethical lawyers to thrive.

  22. Rob Cross

    “They’re good lawyers in Barbados and I know a few”

    I’d certainly be interested in any names you’d care to offer up. I’m having a difficult time finding one.

  23. Boysie

    What do you call a bus load of lawyers going over a cliff?
    ANSWER: A bloody good start