Tue | Oct 17, 2017

Legal Scoop | Struck from the Roll! - The case against Harold Brady

Published:Sunday | March 12, 2017 | 12:27 AMShena Stubbs-Gibson
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Last week, word began to infiltrate the water cooler congregants and then the airwaves, that wellknown attorney-at-law, Harold Brady, had been struck from the roll of attorneys entitled to practise in Jamaica.

Legal Scoop has obtained a copy of the judgment handed down by the Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Council (the panel).

The judgment makes for interesting reading, being a road map, of sorts, of the unravelling of one of the most influential and polarising public figures in the Jamaican political and legal tapestry over the last few decades.

BACKGROUND

To begin with, the panel that heard the complaint against Brady comprised Daniella Gentles Silvera of the firm of Livingston Alexander & Levy, as chair, Trevor Ho-Lyn and John Graham.

The complaint before the panel should not be confused with Brady’s legal wrangling with the Pantons, although it appears to have been filed in March 2015. About the same time Brady was charged with fraudulent conversion in connection with the sale of certain property in which he had acted for businessman Jeffrey Panton, and his wife. Brady was eventually freed of that charge after paying $34.5 million to the Pantons.

The complaint before the panel, however, while also related to the sale of property, concerned a different vendor and a different property. Before the panel, the complainant was the Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ), which Brady had acted for in the sale of a property located at Marcus Garvey Drive, to Neville Gallimore.

THE COMPLAINTS

The FCJ lodged four complaints against Brady before the panel. Brady was said to have:

1) Failed to account to the FCJ for all monies arising from the sale to Gallimore although requested to do so.

2) Breached Canon 1b of the Legal Profession Rules which provides that attorneys are at all times to maintain the dignity and honour of the profession and abstain from behaviour which may tend to discredit the legal profession.

3) Failed to deliver up the file for the transaction (to the counsel who replaced him in the sale) with due expedition even after requested to do so.

4) Failed to submit the relevant agreement for sale to the Stamp Office resulting in a penalty of over $12 million when the agreement was eventually stamped by the new counsel in the matter, Donna Scott-Motley.

HEARINGS

The hearings on the complaint started on September 30, 2016 and continued in 2017. A total of three hearings were held; however, Brady only attended on the first day. According to the judgment, the attorney appeared on the 30th of September 2016 and requested an adjournment.

The request was denied based on, among other considerations, Brady had been given two previous adjournments; had failed to comply with the orders of the panel made on the July 30, 2016 that he file an affidavit in response and a list of documents by August 15, 2016; and because on September 22, 2016, when the matter came up before the panel, it had been made very clear (in the view of the panel) that the hearing would be proceeding on the next occasion.

Accordingly, the panel decided to proceed with the hearing of the matter on September 30 and to take the evidence of Desmond Sicard, chief strategic officer and estate manager of the FCJ.

During the middle of Sicard’s evidence, according to the judgment, Brady again requested an adjournment, and when his request was again not complied with, he exited the proceedings and never returned, not even on the subsequent hearing dates (echoes of the Manatt Enquiry anyone?).

FINDINGS OF FACT

Having heard evidence from Sicard and Scott-Mottley, over the three days of hearing, the panel arrived at several findings of facts. At this juncture, I am just going to set out the entire findings of facts verbatim because they tell a riveting, albeit disturbing, story all on their own:

a. The attorney represented the complainant in the sale of the property for a sale price $140 million.

b. The entire purchase price and one-half costs were paid to the attorney by the purchaser.

c. The complainant and the purchaser entered into an Agreement for Sale which was dated April 15, 2014.

d. The Agreement for Sale was not stamped within 30 days of its date and, therefore, attracted penalties in the amount of $12,600,020, which the complainant was forced to pay when it paid the requisite transfer tax and stamp duty.

e. The attorney assured the complainant that the money he held for the complainant was on account earning interest at a rate of 41/2 per cent per annum.

f. As of April 29, 2014, the attorney owed the complainant $142,616,761.56, being the net proceeds of sale.

g. Of the amount owing to the complainant by the attorney, he paid over $70 million in two tranches in July and August, 2014.

h. The attorney misappropriated the complainant’s money which ought to have been paid over to it.

i. As of the September 30, 2016, the balance owing to the complainant by the attorneywas $111,380,364.62, inclusive of interest.

j. The attorney has acted dishonestly and thereby failed to maintain the honour and dignity of the profession and his behaviour h as discredited the profession of which he is a member in breach of Canon I (b) of the Legal Profession (Canons of Professional Ethics) Rules.

In the view of the panel, Brady’s actions went beyond negligence: “This is more than negligence. It is dishonesty.”

CONCLUSION

Having considered all the evidence, applicable case law and canons, the panel concluded that:

a. Mr Brady be struck off the Roll of Attorneys-at-Law entitled to practise in the several courts of the island of Jamaica.

b. Mr Brady pay to the complainant the sum of $111,380,364.62 with interest thereon at the rate of 41/2 per cent per annum from the 1st October, 2016 until payment on the sum of $102,302,061.56.

c. Costs of these proceedings in the amount of $80,000.00 are to be paid by Brady as to which $50,000.00 is to be paid to the complainant and $30,000.00 to the General Legal Council.

Of course, Mr Brady has a right of appeal against the ruling of the panel and, therefore, this tragic swansong is not necessarily over as yet. Nevertheless, I could not refrain from shaking my head, time and time again, as I read this judgment.

- Shena Stubbs-Gibson is an attorney-at-Law and legal commentator

Send feedback to email: shena.stubbs@gleanerjm.com

Twitter:@shenastubbs.