Tariq Khan and Adreil Brathwaite

Understanding the Challenges Faced by the Disciplinary Committee of the Barbados Bar Association

Marguerite Woodstock-Riley, Chair of the Disciplinary Committee

Marguerite Woodstock-Riley, Chair of the Disciplinary Committee

It has become evident to BU that one of the reasons the Disciplinary Committee (DC) cannot effectively carry out its work is because of a lack of resources. Even the well-meaning Andrew ‘Pilly’ Pilgrim could not make a difference and the incumbent Woodstock-Riley must be facing the same challenge.

The DC is an autonomous body – not to be confused with the Bar Association – of all volunteers therefore adequate administrative support is essential for the committee to do its work. Routine office activities to efficiently record complaints, follow up on decisions, timely service of documents and record of date served, records of what is sent out and follow up, notices to committee members of matters to be discussed to enable preparation  etc. BU understands that the staff at the DC work only two days per week. To exacerbate the situation one staff member was extended to 5 days but was off sick for a large part of last year. After persistent representation by the BA another person was appointed to work 5 days per week by the Registrar. A scanner was used to better distribute documents and various systems put in place to have information automated. It is evident the BC needs greater resources to improve office administration to effectively tackle the mountain of complaints against members of the profession.

The committee meets every Tuesday but decided to  meet one Saturday per month in an attempt to chip away at the backlog. Some hearings were done on other days to accommodate complainants and teleconferences used to facilitate overseas complainants. Complaints were  prioritised and those involving financial issues as the highest.  Firmer positions taken on adjournments by both parties.

It is BU’s view given the backlog – just like what exist in our Courts – a draconian and urgent intervention will be required by the government to address the several issues faced by the DC. A proposal was made to increase the size of the committee to 14. At present 7 persons with 4 needed as a quorum makes it very difficult to review complaints efficiently, schedule hearings and have decisions written. An increase in the amount of financial support received by the committee to improve administrative support has been requested. However BU suspects given the current state of public finances the challenge at the DC will be with us for a while longer.

One area the DC can improve is in the area of communication with the public to increase awareness of what the DC is mandated to do. BU understands that many persons use the DC as a means of collecting funds or resolving issues that can more effectively done in other forums.

It is interesting to note that the majority of complaints to the DC involve land matters. While there has been a suggestion to restrict funds paid to attorneys on land sales BU has been advised that is not something the DC can act on.  BU’s concern is that Barbados should not have to reinvent the wheel in this regard. Let us borrow from other jurisdictions where disciplinary action is undertaken with fervour. We therefore await the proposed changes to the Legal Profession Act that is slated to be reviewed soon.

Can we [the people] expect to hear from the Attorney General and government on this issue?

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91 Comments on “Understanding the Challenges Faced by the Disciplinary Committee of the Barbados Bar Association”

  1. TheGazer March 17, 2016 at 12:35 PM #

    Agree, I compliment you on adhering to the Marquess of Queensberry Rules.

    ND has thrown elbows, jabs, sucker punches and the kitchen sink. Sometimes I wonder which approach is most effective.

    Like

  2. de pedantic Dribbler March 17, 2016 at 1:15 PM #

    @Gazer, “When a young student decides to study [MEDICINE OR ACCOUNTING] is it out of a desire to ensure that [GOOD CARE OR GOOD SERVICE] is provided to all, or is it seen as an avenue to get rich quickly…..??

    Can that question not be paraphrased in that way too?

    As duplicitous as lawyers are, can we honestly say that they are fundamentally any worst that the other professionals who offer themselves to the public?

    A lawyer has been described as having ‘broughtupsy’ and family values and many of these individuals like him are scions of similar ‘family value’ households. Yet we are extensively debating a basic concept of right and wrong enunciated at the Sunday school class they all attended or heard in one of their chats with Mummy or Daddy.

    Yet we seem to be confused why corruption is so rampant across the board.

    Absolutely comedic, to use a word you said previously.

    Like

  3. Well Well & Consequences March 17, 2016 at 1:56 PM #

    Pedantic…none of the other professions are in a position to steal as much money from vulnerable people the way some lawyers do, except for politicians.

    No right or wrong or adherring to laws, ethics, morals, etc…..just ugly greed and the available opportunities to victimize helpless, vulnerable people..

    Like

  4. Well Well & Consequences March 17, 2016 at 2:02 PM #

    Gazer….many of the very worst crooks who destroyed the supreme court and stole from Bajans were schooled in England, members of inner temple and all the pretentious crap they carry on with, many of the older attorneys schooled at UWI Caribbean are also some of the worst culprits, the younger crooks like Fields, Alexander etc….do not have the finesse of the older ones, people are more knowledgeable, there is social media and the wannbe thieves are in too much of a hurry too get too rich, too quickly.

    Like

  5. pieter pieper March 17, 2016 at 4:15 PM #

    The majority of our present-day lawyers are graduates of the Faculty of Law at Cave Hill. They graduate and immediately expect to live in ‘The Heights’, drive ‘big rides’, drink ‘big mout’ drinks’, not have ‘staycations’ or even vacations in other ‘Caricom member states’, but ‘vacations in Europe, Asia and other far off destinations. Teaching Ethics and Morals or even Religion at the Law School will not make its graduates honest and trustworthy. There is an urgent need for meaningful laws designed to ensure our lawyers’ honesty, trustworthiness and integrity, that all their dealings will be above board, that our society will be protected against those with ‘sticky fingers’, and those who would sell their otherwise (hopefully) good character, ‘for a mess of pottage’. Sanctions and penalties must be certain, severe, indiscriminate, and swift in their application! No more unjustifiable and unreasonable delays ! No more should we be satisfied with being the laughing stock of judges at the CCJ ! But can we realistically expect change at anytime in the future ? Certainly ! When cats bark and pigs fly ! Pity !

    Like

  6. David March 17, 2016 at 5:06 PM #

    @pieter pieper

    So who will bell the cat.

    Like

  7. pieter pieper March 17, 2016 at 7:14 PM #

    @David

    The cat has had a long-standing acute hearing deficit and is in a coma ! Maybe we should consult Philip Nicholls !

    Like

  8. David March 17, 2016 at 7:16 PM #

    @Pieter Pieter

    BU is prepared to give Nicholls a space on BU – The Philip Nicholls Column – variable title based on topic of the day.

    Like

  9. pieter pieper March 17, 2016 at 7:28 PM #

    @ David
    Great idea ! I’m sure his contributions will be of great interest and will, no doubt, help in great measure, to facilitate meaningful change particularly in his area of expertise… an area in which we, the people of Barbados, are suffering tremendously and unnecessarily ! I implore you to keep at it !

    Like

  10. Dompey March 17, 2016 at 7:54 PM #

    Caswell Franklyn, is an eternal pessimist and I know that I have the support of some here in advancing this narrative. Because this legend in his own mind can’t help, but to spew and peddle his conspiracy theories as though the Barbados public pays him notice. A week ago there was an article written by our very Caswell Franklyn on the social media Barbados Today, in which he called for the disbandment of the Barbados Defence Force, and his very call for the removal of this institution confirms the fact that Caswell Franklyn is in progressive stage cognitive decline.

    Like

  11. Retribution-things that make me go hum! March 17, 2016 at 7:59 PM #

    @David, “And it does not matter the innocent people who are maligned in the process right? With great power comes great responsibility”

    Your above statement is not my sentiments. Adults will be Adults!

    Like

  12. millertheanunnaki March 17, 2016 at 8:18 PM #

    @ TheGazer March 17, 2016 at 12:00 PM #
    “When a young student decides to study law is it out of a desire to ensure that justice is provided to all, or is it seen as an avenue to get rich quickly.”

    The production of lawyers from the mill on the Hill of paper certification is what one would call a necessary evil.

    Without the Law Faculty there would be no justification for the existence of that educational entity as a University campus.
    Any void resulting from its closure can be easily filled by the BCC or any tertiary education and training provider with the development of the Internet and other ICT-based delivery methods posing the biggest threat to antediluvian and overly expensive to maintain physical plants like Cave Hill.

    Like

  13. Well Well & Consequences March 18, 2016 at 6:16 AM #

    And here is government able to find millions to waste and all types of pretentious nonsense, but cannot find money to pay lawyers who represent people who cannot afford representation.

    http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2016/03/18/million-dollar-answer/

    Like

  14. Well Well & Consequences March 18, 2016 at 10:32 AM #

    http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2016/03/18/no-pay-relief/

    What does Adriel Brathwaite AG, who promised to deal with this matter as quickly as possible…last year, Roger Barker the bad minded counsel, the other lawyer who keeps dodging this injured woman….do at their desks all day that they are unable or just dont want to address and settle this matter….do you know how you look to people on the outside hearing about this lack of care for another human like yourself…think about it, if you are capable that is..

    http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2016/03/18/no-pay-relief/

    Like

  15. TheGazer March 18, 2016 at 6:15 PM #

    WW&C at 6:16 a.m.
    Is this the same as ‘pro bono’ work in some states. Where the lawyer represent the client for free, but get some sort of compensation from the state,

    Regardless, good work is being done by some lawyers in Barbados. There is yet hope.

    Like

  16. Well Well & Consequences March 19, 2016 at 12:13 AM #

    Gazer…there are lawyers on the island who do extremely good work and also handle pro bono cases, but if the government contracted with these legal aid lawyers to represent clients and be paid by government, the lawyers should not have to take their own money to fund that representation. …the government continues to look like the uncaring idiots they all are…

    Like

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