A Bill seeking to enhance the conduct of attorneys at law, and the quality of service they provide, was tabled in the Senate on April 27.
Tabled by the Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, the Bill, entitled ‘An Act to amend the Legal Profession Amendment Act’, contains provisions empowering the General Legal Council to take specified actions to protect money, property or documents of an attorney’s clients.
According to the Memorandum of Objects and Reasons, the Bill requires institutions holding funds for an attorney’s clients to pay over such funds to the Council to be deposited in a special account for the benefit of the clients; empower the Council to obtain a Court Order to require the redirection of postal articles (originally destined for an attorney’s address) to an address provided by the Council; and to administer a compensation fund from which grants may be made to compensate, on an ex gratia basis, the loss of client property.
The Bill also includes provisions to: provide for the maintenance of client trust accounts at licensed financial institutions and building societies, in addition to banks; empower the Council to make regulations requiring attorneys to furnish accountant’s reports; institute a programme of continuing legal professional development for attorneys; and empower the Minister to amend, by order published in the Gazette and subject to affirmative resolution, the penalties set out in the Act, upon the recommendation of the General Legal Council.
The proposed legislation also builds on previous amendments to the Act which, among other things, enlarged and clarified the jurisdiction of the Disciplinary Committee.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter