A legal tribunal with the power to disbar attorneys for misconduct has been established in the British Virgin Islands.
A media release from the Supreme Court said the eight-member tribunal was set up to ‘regulate the professional practice, conduct and discipline of legal practitioners’.
Clients and of attorneys or any person claiming to be aggrieved by an act of professional misconduct by a legal practitioner are able to issue a complaint to the tribunal.
The court as well as the Attorney General, the Registrar of the High Court, and any member of the Virgin Islands General Legal Council are also able to submit complaints against a legal practitioner.
Once a complaint is submitted, the tribunal — which has been described as a ‘watchdog over the legal profession’ — then determines whether to dismiss the claim or proceed with a hearing on the matter.
Disbarment, suspension, fines up to $50K
If a practitioner is determined to be culpable of the complaint against them, “the tribunal may remove the practitioner’s name from the Roll [of Attorneys], suspend the practitioner for a defined period with conditions not exceeding 12 months or impose fines not exceeding $20,000 pursuant to Part A of Schedule 4 or not exceeding $50,000”.
“Other powers of the tribunal upon finding professional misconduct extend to the practitioner being subject to a reprimand or a written apology, require payment of compensation or reimbursement, payment of party costs or a reasonable contribution towards costs or to impose any other reasonable measure not more severe than the prescribed penalties,” the aforementioned Supreme Court release said.
Notably, persons involved in each matter have the right to appeal any tribunal decision. They must do so through the Court of Appeal within 28 days of tribunal decisions, the media release explained.
The tribunal’s eight-member team include senior prosecutor in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Tiffany Scatliffe Esprit as well as Magistrate Jack Husbands.
Other members include Chairperson and attorney Sally Cox, deputy chairperson and Queen’s Counsel Paul Dennis, Hazel-Ann Hannaway, Edward DeCastro and Tre Todman.
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