Tue | Nov 20, 2018

Misconduct of few not reflection of profession - JamBar

Published:Tuesday | July 31, 2018 | 12:00 AMCarlene Davis/Gleaner Writer
Stuart Stimpson, vice-president of the Jamaican Bar Association.

Over the last 10 years, 26 attorneys-at-law have been disbarred by the General Legal Council of Jamaica, the majority as a result of professional misconduct stemming from criminal charges.

Since the start of the year, the profession has been thrown into the spotlight, as two prominent attorneys have been before the court for defrauding clients.

According to Stuart Stimpson, vice-president of the Jamaican Bar Association (JamBar), this publicity undoubtedly augurs negatively for those accused but not the profession on a whole.

"There are over 2,000 attorneys registered for private practice," said Stimpson. "We don't believe that the multiple charges against one attorney in recent times and the report of a similar charge against another last week rise to the level of frequent accusations against the profession," he told The Gleaner.

Stimpson said that recent events should be a clear warning to those who would choose to violate the trust and confidence that the public reposes in them as lawyers.

"It may likely increase the scrutiny that clients exercise when dealing with lawyers. This is something lawyers practising in accordance with the rules should not find a challenge," the JamBar vice-president said.

He stated further: "As an association established to represent attorneys in Jamaica and safeguard the public interest, we do not tolerate any attorney's decision to succumb to such temptations.

"If it is proven that an attorney has violated his client's trust or abused his office, he should suffer the full extent of the law."

The JamBar vice-president noted that the association regularly held seminars to re-engage members about the need for appropriate and professional conduct.

"We will seek to continue in the education of our members and the wider profession in ethics and general legal education," said Stimpson.

He also advised clients to be careful when selecting attorneys, indicating that the association would continue to protect the constitutional rights of the Jamaican people, and advocate for the improvement of our justice system.