A few years ago, a lawyer in St Kitts was debarred, and another absconded to somewhere overseas. In more recent times, two of them were arrested for inability to account for funds and one of them served jail time. Then there was the lawyer who held public office and who, when he was let go by the employer refused to go, claiming that his appointment was for life. Add to that the reaction of another lawyer to the application of fee standards by the Attorney General. He demonstrated with placards in-front of government headquarters.
We know, too, that very often, cases are drawn out when an overly lenient Court grants recess after recess because lawyers claim that they are not ready to proceed. Sometimes this appears to be a ploy to interfere with witness memory.
We have also heard of the huge sums charged and levied against the state for both plaintiff and defendant in defence of democracy during our election court cases.
The conduct of lawyers entered center court again at a recent town hall meeting, when a member of the audience raised the concern of lawyers accepting payment for services, but not performing said service and not refunding the monies collected, and generally delaying or subverting justice. He raised the issue hoping for government to intervene.
To his credit, Prime Minister Harris has described this conduct as an issue of governance, and stated that it ought to be addressed as such. We agree.
It isn’t that we are arguing against the role of lawyers, nor against them being handsomely rewarded. But it is difficult to comprehend why there is so much variation in price for the provision of the same service. It is also difficult to understand why they would accept cases that have little chance of success, just to make money.
At the best of times, lawyers are 50% right. When they ignore good governance rules, they become 100% wrong. That is the time when sanctions ought to be applied.
May it please all of us!