Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
MORE THAN 200 complaints have been made against attorneys-at-law by members of the public to the General Legal Council (GLC) in the just-concluded year.
In its 2011-2012 annual report to Parliament which was tabled in the House of Representatives last Tuesday, the GLC said it received 216 reports for the year.
According to the GLC, the 216 complaints received represented an increase of 20 over the previous year.
The GLC said, that of the complaints considered at the general meeting of the Disciplinary Committee as at March 31, 2012, there were 112 complaints in which a prima facie case was found.
In 71 of the instances, no prima facie case was made out, while four complaints were withdrawn.
In total, the GLC disposed of 185 cases over the period and had 436 cases at the end of the year.
In the meantime, five attorneys were struck from the roll following examination of their matters.
They were J. Vernon Ricketts, Antoinette Haughton-Cardenas, Joseph Allen, Jermaine Simms, and Conrad Powell.
At the same time, attorneys Kenneth Carter, Lonnette A. Fisher-Lynch, Gladston Mapletoft Wilson and Robert Brown were found guilty of professional misconduct for failing to to deliver accountant's reports to the secretary of the General Legal Council.
Meanwhile, Haughton-Cardenas was found guilty of professional misconduct for her failure to pay over the sum of $2.6 million received by her for the complainant in a suit in which she acted for the complainant against Northern Caribbean University for wrongful dismissal and defamation.
The defendant paid to Haughton-Cardenas the sum of $2.6 million by cheque dated 18th April, 2008, which was lodged on April 22, 2008.
Haughton failed to pay over the sum collected or any part thereof as she was required to do, and she failed to account to the complainant for her money when she was reasonably required to do so in breach of Canon VII (b) of the Canons of Professional Ethics Rules.
The attorney was ordered to pay to the complainant Hyacinth Rose the sum of $2.6 million together with interest at the rate of 10 per cent per annum.
"The attorney had already been struck off the roll in an unrelated matter, but the panel found it necessary to make a further strike-off order," the annual report said.
Meanwhile, Debayo Adedipe was found guilty of professional misconduct in acting in the sale to the complainants of two parcels of land.
"The attorney was found guilty of inexcusable and deplorable negligence and neglect in breach of Canon IV (s) of the Legal Profession Canons of Professional Ethics Rules. Pursuant to section 12 (4) of the Legal Profession Act, the attorney was ordered to pay to the complainants the sum of $1.9 million together with interest at the rate of six per cent per annum, computed from May 2, 2009 to the date of payment.
The attorney was also ordered to pay costs to the complainants on the sum of $200,000," the GLC said.
Howard Lettman was found guilty of professional misconduct for his failure to provide the complainant with information as to the progress of her business.
The attorney was retained by the complainant in an agreement for sale of land. The attorney has accounted for all money he had in relation to this mater and has not failed to account for the money in his hands.
The panel, however, found that the attorney has not adequately kept his clients advised of the progress of the matter and, in particular, waited far too long before preparing a written statement of account for his clients.
Carlton Campbell was found guilty of professional misconduct for his failure to obtain probate of will for Nathaniel Adams.
Harold Brady was found guilty of professional misconduct in breach of Canon 1 (b) of the Legal Profession (Canons of Professional Ethics) Rules for paying money to his client even though he knew that someone else was entitled to that money.
The attorney was reprimanded for his misconduct and was further ordered to pay the amount of $250,000 towards the complainant's costs.
Similarly, Hugh Abel Levy was found guilty of professional misconduct for his failure to act with due expedition and failure to provide his clients with all information as to the progress of their business. Appeals have been filed by Brady and Levy against the decisions made against them.
Eleven appeals are pending.