Fri | Nov 27, 2020

JAMBAR concerned about non-lawyers doing legal work

Published:Friday | July 26, 2019 | 12:00 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer
Emile Leiba, president of the Jamaican Bar Association.

Concerns are being raised among members of the legal fraternity about persons who are offering legal advice and carrying out legal work without the qualifications stipulated under the Legal Profession Act.

Under the legislation, one must hold a Legal Education Certificate from one of three law schools in the English-speaking Caribbean to practise law in the public sector while those in private practice must have an additional practising certificate.

The concerns were raised yesterday by president of the Jamaican Bar Association (JAMBAR) Emile Leiba after confirming with The Gleaner that Sharen Thomas Reid, legal affairs manager at the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) and wife of discarded Education Minister Ruel Reid, was not part of the association.

“That would be an area of concern as well. It’s something we’ve raised in the context of paralegals, and so on, specifically that if they are engaging in any provisional legal services, if it is not involved in the court processes, it’s an area of concern, and, of course, I cannot comment on her case, specifically because I don’t know the facts of that,” Leiba told The Gleaner.

NOT CALLED TO BAR

Ronald Thwaites, opposition spokesperson on education, on Tuesday, questioned Minister Karl Samuda, who has been overseeing the education ministry since Ruel Reid’s departure in March, about Thomas Reid’s qualifications.

Samuda confirmed that Reid’s wife has been employed as manager for legal affairs at the Caribbean Maritime University since July 2017.

“Mrs Reid is a trained lawyer, so she is qualified to hold the position she has,” he insisted before he was challenged by Thwaites.

“Can the minister affirm that Mrs Reid is entitled to practise law, or would that not matter in these circumstances?” Thwaites questioned.

“The fact that one is not called to the Bar to enable them to practise in business or in the courts does not, in anyway, diminish their ability,” Samuda responded.

Yesterday, Thwaites told The Gleaner that the practice of persons not called to the Bar carrying out unsupervised legal work was of great concern to attorneys.

“I do have a concern about persons who offer legal advice but are not licensed attorneys as much as I would have with people doing medical procedures without being licensed doctors … . It is a frequent practice, which causes a number of attorneys great concern – people who may have some legal training or some experience purport to do work without the supervision of an attorney, which may place the client at considerable jeopardy,“ said Thwaites, who is also an attorney.

Samuda has since confirmed that Thomas Reid is not an attorney-at-law.

nickoy.wilson@gleanerjm.com