President of the Law Association of T&T (LATT) Lynette Seebaran-Suite, SC, is calling for more stringent measures to be put in place to deal with attorneys suspected of wrongdoing.
Seebaran-Suite, who spoke to Guardian Media yesterday, is recommending that lawyers who are suspected of “egregious offences” be temporarily suspended from practice until their matters are determined and concluded.
“If the alleged offence is serious enough, the disciplinary committee should be able to suspend them (lawyers suspected of serious wrongdoing) from practising until their disciplinary trial has been completed,” she explained, stating that this was her personal opinion and not that of the association.
Seebaran-Suite further said that the power of the disciplinary committee to suspend such attorneys be enshrined in legislation. Currently, if a complaint is made against an attorney, this may take a while before the matter comes to completion, Seebaran-Suite said, noting that in the meantime, such lawyers can continue to practice even while their matter is ongoing.
She said suspension should apply when there are serious complaints, including gross misappropriation of money.
“There are a minority of cases in which the disciplinary committee might want to exercise discretion to temporarily suspend an attorney until such time the matter is concluded,” Seebaran-Suite emphasised.
Delivering her address at LATTs’ dinner and awards ceremony which took place at the Hilton Hotel on Friday night, Seebaran-Suite said the strategic plan focuses on sustainability and capacity of the association itself, as well as enhancement of membership benefits, access to justice and law reform issues, as well as continuous professional development.
“The Attorney General has committed to a working group to address long needed amendments to our act which marks its 37th anniversary this year, including improving our disability function, adherence to the treaty, establishing legal education in the Caribbean and relieving the registries of the function of collecting our subscriptions,” she added.
During the awards ceremony several esteemed attorneys who have been in practice for 50 years were honoured including Stephanie Daly, SC, Russell Martineau, SC, Timothy Hamel-Smith, Robin Montano, El Farouk Hosein, Philip Sealy.
Giving remarks on behalf of the awardees, Martineau had some advice for younger members of the profession.
“I would recommend that you read the autobiographies of Chief Justice Michael de la Bastide. He is more than that because there he speaks of a number of legal experiences,” he suggested.
This was the first Law Association’s dinner after a hiatus of three years following the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.