The Grenada Bar Association (GBA) says it has appointed executive member, Lisa Taylor to address the issue of those persons who might be affected by the decision of high court judge, Justice Margaret Mohammed to stop Antiguan attorney-at-law Kenroy Samuel from practicing in the local courts.
THE NEW TODAY newspaper has raised the issue of clients who retained Samuel could be seriously affected by the decision since they run the risk of not having legal representation in their matters.
In its editorial last week, the paper also called on GBA to take steps to ensure that clients are repaid any monies given to Samuel to represent in matters before the local courts.
Speaking to THE NEW TODAY on Tuesday, GBA President, Ruggles Ferguson said that GBA has designated its Vice President, Lisa Taylor to handle matters of concern emanating from Samuel’s former clients.
Ferguson said it would be wise for the embattled attorney to provide the files of persons he was representing to another attorney to whom people can check and make a determination as to whether they want to retrieve their files or continue with that particular attorney.
He added that if there are monies due to clients because of retainers paid to Samuel then these persons are entitled to reimbursement.
“Knowing that he (Samuel) is no longer able to practice, he would have within his own peculiar knowledge how many clients he has out there and what work he needs to do in relation to those clients.
“I doubt he would want to jeopardise the situation with these particular clients. Apart from the clients’ interest but it is in his interest to make the appropriate arrangements to ensure that there is continuity in service or at the very least those persons have an opportunity to retrieve their files and bring it else where.
“…If persons however, have problems in contacting Mr. Samuel or retrieving their files from him then the Bar association can be contacted. In fact, Lisa Taylor who is the Vice-president of the Bar she would be prepared to follow up on these matters and ensure that persons are not jeopardised with their legal matters.
Samuel has signaled his intention to appeal Justice Mohammed’s decision and to petition the court to allow him to continue to practice and represent his clients pending the final outcome of the matter.
The judge has ordered the Registrar of the Supreme Court Registry to strike off Samuel from the list in light of a Disbarment Order against him in New York.
Ferguson also commented on a recommendation made by Justice Mohammed for the GBA to be involved in the application by lawyers to be admitted to practice in the local jurisdiction.
The GBA President also recommended the involvement of the Office of the Attorney General in the application process in order to minimize another episode like the Samuel matter.
Ferguson said: “One possible route as recommended by the judge herself is to ensure that when persons apply to be called to the Bar, the application ought to be sent to the Bar so at least it would have knowledge about the application, so if any follow-up measures need to be taken, then this follow up can be done”.
He sought to explain the process that Samuel would have gone through in order to be called to the Grenada Bar.
“Generally speaking, when somebody makes an application, it goes to the court. The applicant swears an affidavit, which establishes that he or she is a fit and proper person to be called to the bar. In essence, the person states that he or she has the academic qualifications and fulfills the requirement of good character. Quite apart from that, a local attorney certifies that he or she knows the applicant and that applicant is a fit and proper person to be so called to the Bar,” he said.
As it stands now, Ferguson said GBA is not directly involved in the admission of anyone to practice in the local courts.
Ferguson stated that another method that can be used would be to require the applicant to produce a certificate of good standing from the prior jurisdiction where the person practiced law.
” For example, if you are coming from the New York Bar or some other foreign jurisdiction, a certificate of good standing verifies that you have no disciplinary issues pending or that you are subject to any disciplinary sanctions at the moment”, he said.
According to Ferguson, since this was not a requirement in Grenada, Samuel would not have been required to produce a certificate of good standing.
“It’s not a requirement in a sense for the bar here and therefore there was no certificate of good standing. There was just a mere application and the applicant, as all other applicants says, I’m a fit and proper person to be so called. Somebody else verified that they know the person and that person has satisfied the requirements of being a fit and proper person to be called”, he remarked.
The Samuel case has been the first of its kind in the local jurisdiction.