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Chief Justice Pereira puts ‘errant’ ECSC Lawyers on blast

- misappropriation of clients’ funds, appearing before the ECSC without a practicing certificate & unpreparedness were some of the issues highlighted
The Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Her Ladyship Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE, spared no words in putting lawyers of the Virgin Islands and others in the Eastern Caribbean territory on blast during her address for the opening of the 2015-16 Law Year. Photo: VINO/File
Lawyers practising in the Eastern Supreme Supreme Court leaving the special sitting for the opening of the Law Year 2015-16 at the High Court of the Virgin Islands on September 18, 2015. Photo: VINO
Lawyers practising in the Eastern Supreme Supreme Court leaving the special sitting for the opening of the Law Year 2015-16 at the High Court of the Virgin Islands on September 18, 2015. Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - The Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC), Her Ladyship Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE, spared no words in putting lawyers of the Virgin Islands and others in the Eastern Caribbean territory on blast during her address for the opening of the 2015-16 Law Year.

Yesterday, September 17, 2015 as her ladyship delivered the opening address via a live broadcast from Grenada, the foremost parts of her message were centered on addressing issues plaguing the judiciary, including allegedly misappropriating clients’ funds and properties.

Misappropriation of clients' funds

“The court will show no tolerance for such behaviour. In many of our member states, disciplinary committees have been established to whom litigants can lodge complaints against an attorney. Such indiscretion can be very costly to the client and quite damaging to the attorney, not only financially but also professionally,” she said, adding that in some Eastern Caribbean countries there are attorneys who have been dismissed and are to-date still barred from practicing.

It is very disconcerting that in number of cases, these funds are inappropriately managed by attorneys-at-law...the court will show no tolerance for such behaviour."

He address was done from Grenada yesterday September 17, 2015 with live connections in all the Eastern Caribbean countries and territory’s “Our neighbouring islands of Barbados and Jamaica have of late shown zero tolerance for such behaviours, and we have seen cases of disbarment. In our jurisdiction as well, we have seen a few cases of attorneys being struck off the roll,” said the Chief Justice.

“Great responsibility is placed on an attorney-at-law who has been put in charge of clients’ funds. It is very disconcerting that, in an overwhelming number of cases, these funds are inappropriately managed by attorneys-at-law,” added Chief Justice Pereira.

The Chief Justice also took issues with the reported lack of respect, punctuality and lack of preparedness by lawyers.

Lawyers appearing before the ECSC without a practicing certificate 

"Another disturbing trend, which appears to be taking root, is that of lawyers who appear before the court without possessing a valid practicing certificate,” highlighted the Chief Justice as she noted that in most Member States, the Legal Profession Act, which governs many aspects of the legal profession, mandates that an attorney-at-law must possess a practicing certificate.

“However, there is an increasing number of attorneys who commit a great disservice to the profession, the clients and the court by sneaking their way before the court knowing fully well that they are in contravention of this requirement."

Noting that such practices shouldn’t be, Chief Justice Pereira said that it is a discourtesy to the court, and critically it is an act of dishonesty in the context of the legal profession. “It is most unfair and deceitful to your client who has a legitimate expectation.”

The Chief Justice admonished errant lawyers to cease and desist from such practice, as it brings the entire legal profession into disrepute and erodes public confidence in the justice system.

6 Responses to “Chief Justice Pereira puts ‘errant’ ECSC Lawyers on blast”

  • wow (18/09/2015, 11:51) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    its about time someone talks about this
  • talk (18/09/2015, 15:13) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    Instead of talking why don't you discipline these lawyers last year a lawyer lied to the public saying he did not make certain comments when he did . After the media company played the tape of what he denied he went underground.

    Before the tape was played he had even threaten to bring a lawsuit against the media company for lying about what he said. Was anything done about that??? Would something had been done concerning his behavior in St.Thomas , united states or England yes.
    • Duchess (18/09/2015, 17:22) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      Elton Georges, former Complaints Commissioner was tireless in his efforts to secure accountability for lawyers in the BVI but it seems as though it continues to fall on deaf ears. So how about every one here in addition to complaining anonymously online, contact the Complaints Commissioner and start a petition to have the government include this in the legal professions act as it was deliberately left out. Is the government protecting the vast number of English lawyers here or those who live abroad, come in for one case, are admitted for life for a pittance fee (Cayman & TC&I don't allow this) then go back home and practice "BVI" law, or the poorly trained BVI lawyer who does not do A'levels, does a law degree in England, does not do the work training so cannot practice in the UK but comes back here, can practice and expects to be hired by the top firms because they're local? Either the only losers are the every day folk living here, belongers and non-belongers alike.
      • Help (19/09/2015, 19:49) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        The problem is not about the lawyers doing Alevel subjects its about integrity. The profession has failed in setting standards and up keeping them. You have Lawyers collecting money over charging and not doing their jobs properly or at all. Every profession needs experience so coming from Law school from England and been wet behind the ear is nothing new.

        That is why a lot of lawyers from overseas come here for the experience and money. Remember before offshore finance, Lawyers use to be on the court house steps in England and united states begging for a client.

        Or some of them would be in malls looking for a malpractice suit opportunity. The problems with the profession is that it has no dignity anymore. You have deals been cut in and out of the court room most time at the clients expense. And there is nobody to complain too or who would do anything.
  • farmer brown (18/09/2015, 15:49) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    nothing will change
  • DON Q (19/09/2015, 09:58) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    They are worst now than before


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