Government should be commended for taking the decision even though late in the day to appoint a seven-member Committee to monitor the conduct of local lawyers under the Legal Profession Act.
This Committee should have been put in place since female high court judge, Justice Margaret Price-Findlay who was the chairperson, departed the jurisdiction more than two years ago.
As Minister of Legal Affairs, Elvin Nimrod who is a lawyer by profession said at Tuesday’s press conference there have been too many complaints levelled against lawyers by clients who are not satisfied with their performance after retaining them for court and other matters.
The attempt to finally get the Committee in place as stipulated by law is a step in the right direction and should be supported by all and sundry.
Minister Nimrod hit the nail bang on the head when he mentioned that some lawyers are representing both clients in legal matters.
There are persons who have had issues with their neighbours and will seek legal advice from lawyers who hide from them the fact that they are also representing the other side but will still accept the legal brief.
Although THE NEW TODAY has given its support to government on the appointment of the Committee, this newspaper is warning at the same time that the inclusion of one particular individual to serve on this very important body can undermine the entire process.
There have been numerous complaints about the conduct and actions of this person by clients particularly in the recent past.
If the Committee is to be taken seriously then the Governor-General and by extension government should relook the appointment and seek to have a much more suitable person fill the position even if the law specifies that that questionable person by virtue of the office he/she holds should be a member of the body.
Isn’t there a section in the law, which states that this particular office holder or his nominee can be appointed to serve on the Committee?
This section of the law, if it exists can be used to rectify the situation as a matter of necessity and urgency.
Within minutes of Deputy Prime Minister Nimrod announcing the names of the Committee at a press conference, a citizen in good standing made a complaint to us against this particular individual on a very specific legal issue.
Many persons now serving time at the Richmond Hill prison have accused the individual of collecting retainer fees from them, not showing up in court to represent them and not returning the briefs for lack of performance.
This newspaper wishes to refer Prime Minister Mitchell, Minister Nimrod and GG Dame Cecile to a case now before the high court involving a Grenadian who is now serving prison time in a foreign territory on a drug conviction.
This particular Committee member was previously retained by this Grenadian to do certain legal matters for him in a civil case and in the end the relationship between them became sour.
According to the filed court papers, the convicted man requested the committee member to hand over all funds holding for him, supposedly in a Trust Fund in the bank to a named lawyer and up to this day there has been issue over compliance as certain funds are allegedly still “missing”.
A prominent local QC intervened by way of letter and was still not able to get this particular Committee member to comply with the request of the client and to hand over all the monies that were supposedly put in a Trust Fund.
In court papers filed in the Supreme Court Registry, the Committee member is now being accused of using his powerful position to get the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to seize the funds of his former client on the grounds that his assets arose from his involvement in the drug trade.
This matter is still pending before the court and a respectable and prominent local attorney raised the issue of the conduct of this particular Committee member in the matter involving the FIU.
The government-appointed Committee is a good thing but its effectiveness can be diminished and undermined by the inclusion of this particular individual to sit on it and be allowed to monitor the performances of lawyers in this country.
There is a saying known to most Grenadians that kettle cannot call pot black and you cannot put cat to watch over cheese.
How can government truly expect that particular person to sit on a Committee to look at the case of a particular female attorney-of-law
who was sanctioned by Justice Wallbank for what amounts to be theft of a client’s funds?
The ruling from the judge included a recommendation that the Committee charged with such responsibility in law should look into the behaviour of this female lawyer with a view to considering her suspension or removal from the list of legal practitioners in Grenada due to her conduct.
The important question is this: Can this particular Committee member be part of the newly appointed Committee to look into the affairs of this particular female attorney who continues to practice despite this long outstanding ruling from the judge?
The government ought to take decisive action in order to give Grenadians the confidence that it will not be business as usual and that this is a serious Committee with biting teeth.