High Court to hear Bar Association's injunction application next week
A High Court is next week scheduled to hear an application by the Jamaican Bar Association (JBA) to get an injunction halting the implementation of measures mandating lawyers to report instances of financial crimes in dealings with clients.
The Bar Association has registered strong objections to the order in the amended Financial Investigation Division and the Proceeds of Crime Acts which were approved by Parliament in July.
The Bar Association claims the new requirements will damage the rights of the citizens of Jamaica to an independent legal profession and impact adversely on fundamental principles of justice.
On Monday, the JBA followed through with its threat and filed a constitutional challenge.
However, while a date has not been set for the lawsuit, the bar association wants the court to halt the implementation of the requirements.
President of the bar association, Donovan Walker, says the hearing of the application for an injunction is set for next week Friday.
The JBA claims that requiring lawyers to store and provide information on clients is a threat to the independence of the bar and ultimately the judiciary.
And Walker says any threat can lead to the unravelling of any system of justice resulting in anarchy, tyranny and a breach of democracy.
In an email today updating JBA members, Walker noted that the entitlement for government authorities to examine attorneys’ files facilitates State access to information which breaches attorney-client confidentiality.
And the JBA head says the destruction and damage to legal professional privilege through requirements such as forcing lawyers to store and secure information are not proportionate to what he calls the mischief that the law is aimed at getting rid of.
Walker says the JBA will vigorously defend the rights of citizens and the legal profession to ensure its independence.
Queen’s Counsel RNA Henriques is leading an 11-member team assembled by the JBA in its case against the Government and the General Legal Council.
Other professions affected by the new requirements include Public Accountants, Real Estate Dealers, Casino and Gaming Machine Operators.
WATCH: THE GLEANER MINUTE