No funds from gov’t for disciplinary tribunal

A lack of funds from the Keith Mitchell-led government is preventing the General Legal Council from meeting to hear a number of complaints brought by the public against lawyers.

A source close to the committee told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that the body is fully constituted but is not able to meet at this time given the lack of funds from the State.

He said that the government has not been able to fulfill its obligation to the body including the establishment of a Secretariat to facilitate hearings.

He spoke of the committee already meeting and disposing of over 20 matters brought before it in some past sittings but is not able to hear other matters in recent times.

THE NEW TODAY understands that one of the high profile cases still to be heard is the order from a high court judge for the committee to determine what disciplinary action should be taken against female attorney-at-law, Brenda Wardally-Beaumont for breach of ethics.

In 2o15, the British high court judge, Justice Gerhard Wallbank ruled that Wardally-Beaumont should appear before a Tribunal of judges to investigate her for alleged misappropriation of funds belonging to her client.

Justice Wallbank’s order was that the female attorney be investigated with a view to determining whether she should be suspended from the profession or struck off the Roll.

Wardally-Beaumont was taken to court by her client, Joel Ganpot who hired local attorney Alban John to represent him in the case after he did not get over $300, 000.00 that were due to him following a divorce settlement.

THE FACTS

(a). In April 2005 the Defendant (Wardally-Beaumont) received a sum of $304,419.99 on behalf of one of her clients, Mr. Joel Ganpot, representing settlement sums in matrimonial proceedings between Mr. Ganpot and his ex-wife Mrs. Lester Ganpot.

(b). Despite demands made by or on behalf of Mr. Ganpot the Defendant failed to pay over the said sum.

(c). Mr. Ganpot sued the Defendant. Judgment in Default of Defence was entered against the Defendant in favour of Mr. Ganpot on 13th July 2007 in a total sum of $308,248.69.

(d). Despite Consent Orders subsequently being entered making provision for liquidation of the Judgment in installments, a substantial portion of the debt currently remains unpaid.




(e). The Defendant has accepted responsibility for having received moneys for Mr. Ganpot whilst acting on his behalf and for having failed to disburse them to Mr. Ganpot when required to do so.

(f). The Defendant has admitted that all cheques issued by her law firm were signed by her and that she must have used up Mr. Ganpot’s funds.

(g). The Defendant seeks to attribute the appropriation of Mr. Ganpot’s money to improper acts of an office administrator formerly employed by her and who has allegedly since left the jurisdiction.

(h). The Defendant appears in consequence thereof to have committed one or more acts of professional misconduct contrary to Clauses 2(2) and 81 of the Code of Ethics and Section 54(1) of the Legal Profession Act.

The Defendant has previously consented to, and subsequently satisfied, a judgment against her in Claim No. GDAHCV2002/0101, Cecilia Yvonne James vs Brenda Wardally-Beaumont, wherein it was claimed that the Defendant misappropriated a sum in excess of $100,000 whilst acting for the Claimant in the sale of a property.

Justice Wallbank stated in his judgment that misappropriation by an Attorney-at-Law of client funds breaches a number a fundamental principles that a lawyer is bound to uphold including an obligation to protect a client’s money and assets.

“This principle goes to the heart of a Solicitor’s duty to act in the best interests of a client”, he said.

The Order of the Court:

(1). The whole conduct of the Defendant relating to this matter shall be considered by a disciplinary tribunal comprising at least two judges of the Supreme Court for the purpose of determining whether the Defendant shall be suspended from practicing for a specified period or be struck off from the Roll, pursuant to section 82 of the West Indies Associated States Supreme Court (Grenada) Act, Cap 336;

(2). There shall be established such a disciplinary tribunal by the Registrar, in consultation with the Judicial and Legal Services Commission;

(3). A notice of first hearing of the matter before the disciplinary tribunal shall be given to the Defendant and the Claimant via their respective solicitors of record in this Claim.

(4). At such first hearing the disciplinary tribunal shall give directions as to the further hearing of the matter, including as to granting any other interested parties an opportunity to be heard;

(5). The disciplinary tribunal shall take into account all the circumstances of the Defendant’s conduct, such as it may be found by the disciplinary tribunal, including whether the said conduct concerns a single event, or a repetition of previous conduct, and the degree of responsibility that ought properly be ascribed to the Defendant;

(6). The disciplinary tribunal shall be entitled to instruct Counsel to act as amicus to the tribunal, the reasonable cost thereof to be met in the first instance by the public purse of Grenada;

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