Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Letter of the Day| Attorneys must respect courts, judges

Published:Saturday | June 11, 2016 | 6:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The Jamaican Bar Association (JamBar) is aware of a letter published in The Gleaner on June 9, 2016 entitled 'K.D. Knight out of order!'

It is important to note that it is the General Legal Council, and not the Jamaican Bar Association, that is responsible for discipline within the legal profession.

Notwithstanding, we will use the opportunity of this public discourse to say that all attorneys and judges are required to maintain certain well-established standards of conduct and to urge all members of the profession to be mindful of that.

Specifically, the Canons of Professional Ethics under the Legal Profession Act provide as follows:

Canon I (b) - "An Attorney shall at all times maintain the honour and dignity of the profession and shall abstain from behaviour which may tend to discredit the profession of which he is a member."

Canon V (a) - "An Attorney shall maintain a respectful attitude towards the Court, not for the sake of the holder of any office, but for the maintenance of its supreme importance and he shall not engage in undignified or discourteous conduct which is degrading to the Court."

Canon V (b) - "An Attorney shall encourage respect for the Courts and Judges."

 

OVERRIDING DUTY

 

Attorneys are also officers of the court, and as said in the well-known case of Rondel v Worsley, "an officer of the Court concerned in the administration of justice ... has an overriding duty to the Court, to the standards of his profession ...".

It is therefore important to note that all attorneys are subject to the same disciplinary standards even if it has always been expected that older, more experienced members of the profession have the additional responsibility to be role models and to guide younger, junior members.

Ultimately, a judge has the power and responsibility to maintain the dignity of the court, and where necessary, he or she may sanction attorneys who behave inappropriately in the face of the court.

Of note, also, pursuant to the Legal Profession Act, any person who is aggrieved by the alleged professional misconduct of an attorney has the right to lay a formal complaint to the Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Council or any member of the General Legal Council may also lay a complaint against any attorney in relation to which there are allegations of professional misconduct.

"The reputation of the profession is more important than the fortunes of any individual member. Membership of a profession brings many benefits, but that is a part of the burden." Lord Rodger of Earlsferry in Gupta v The General Medical Council.

Sherry Ann McGregor

President, Jamaican Bar Association