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Press Release From Independent Source

Legal Watchdog Implemented with Disciplinary Tribunal

The Virgin Islands now has a Disciplinary Tribunal to regulate the professional practice, etiquette, conduct and discipline of legal practitioners. The body will serve as a watchdog over the legal profession and administer discipline to any grievance regarding misconduct. Photo: Provided
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI –The Virgin Islands now has a Disciplinary Tribunal to regulate the professional practice, etiquette, conduct and discipline of legal practitioners. The body will serve as a watchdog over the legal profession and administer discipline to any grievance regarding misconduct.

This is according to a press release from the Government Information Service (GIS) dated March 6th, 2019, which states that the eight-member body will be chaired by Attorney Sally Cox and co-chaired by Deputy Chairperson Mr Paul Dennis, QC.  Other members are Tiffany R. Scatliffe Esprit, Hazel-Ann Hannaway, Jack Husbands, Edward DeCastro and Tre Todman

Registrar of the High Court Mrs Erica Smith-Penn holds the office of Secretary to the Tribunal.

Complaints can be issued by clients, the Attorney General, the Registrar of the High Court, any member of the Virgin Islands General Legal Council, the Court or any other person claiming to be aggrieved by an act of professional misconduct committed by a legal practitioner.

Complaints are to be submitted to the Secretary of the Tribunal using the prescribed form of affidavit set out in form 2 of the Act

Upon receiving complaints, the Tribunal will determine whether to summarily dismiss the complaint or to convene a hearing of the matter for examination of the charges made before it.

If the Tribunal determines that a hearing will be convened, notices will be issued fixing the hearing date, requiring various steps to be taken by the parties in advance of the hearing.

The Tribunal has the power to make rules regulating the presentation, hearing and determination of applications and the Tribunal has the power of the High Court to summon witnesses, call for the production of documents and examine witnesses and parties on oath.

Parties have a right of appeal to the Court of Appeal within 28 days of Tribunal decisions and the Territory’s courts of law retains the jurisdiction, power and authority to deal with contempt of court committed by legal practitioners. Nature of Complaints may include allegations of professional misconduct, a criminal offence or mental illness.

As part of the disciplinary measures, the Tribunal may remove the practitioner’s name from the role, suspend the practitioner for a defined period with conditions not exceeding 12 months or impose fines not exceeding $20,000 pursuant to Part A of Schedule 4 or not exceeding $50,000 pursuant to Part B of Schedule 4.

Other powers of the tribunal upon finding professional misconduct extend to the practitioner being subject to a reprimand or a written apology, require payment of compensation or reimbursement, payment of party costs or a reasonable contribution towards costs or to impose any other reasonable measure not more severe than the prescribed penalties.

The Virgin Islands Disciplinary Tribunal is a body established under the Legal Profession Act, 2015.

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