Tue | Dec 7, 2021

Lawyers did not attend police academy

Published:Saturday | August 2, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The issue of punishing lawyers for not reporting on their clients about 'suspicious transactions' is extremely ill advised and draconian. Most lawyers so far seem to focus on the client-attorney privilege issue.

It would appear that if criminals elude the police, lawyers are required to fulfil a role where the police have failed. Lawyers are not police officers. They didn't go to the police academy and so it is the duty of the police to hunt down criminals.

If, for example, someone is involved in the drug trade and is able to have their funds deposited in a financial institution and later uses those funds to purchase a property, how can it be the duty of the lawyer to investigate that individual? If the police were not able to nab that individual and the bank did not realise that the customer was involved in the drug trade, it would simply mean that the police did not do their job and, possibly, too, the bank didn't do its due diligence.

Furthermore, if someone conducts a transaction by way of a manager's cheque or has funds wired from his bank account, is the lawyer expected to go behind the bank's transaction and find out how the funds got into the banking system? So why should the lawyer be required to do what the police failed to do? The buck ought not to rest with lawyers.

Law enforcement is the role of the police, and if they allow a criminal to slip through their net, lawyers shouldn't be forced to pick up where they have failed.

If the category now includes lawyers, why not widen it much more to include parents, spouses, neighbours, children, pastors, friends or even co-workers? Usually, these are the ones who would interact on a more intimate level with these individuals and, possibly, benefit from their 'ill-gotten gain'. They would be better able to provide police with information.

With our 'informer-fi-dead' culture, no one is prepared to go into a witness protection programme, which is just a figment of the imagination for us in Jamaica.

GARFIELD WHYTE

Attorney-at-law