EDITORIAL: Good move by appeal court
We doubt very much that disbarred attorney at law Therold Fields will find much sympathy among Barbadians of any class over the decision taken by the Court of Appeal to remove his name from the register of persons permitted to practise law here.
Based on the evidence presented during his hearing and the finding of the court, presided over by Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson, he certainly will not get any sympathy from us.
While we respect any right to appeal that Mr Fields may possess, and believe that we have a duty not to do anything that would prejudice any such right, it would be hard to conclude anything other than that the young attorney got his just desserts.
Unfortunately for Mr Fields, in the current environment where a significant number of Barbadians don’t hold members of the legal profession in very high regard largely because of the blatantly dishonest or otherwise professionally unacceptable conduct of what is no doubt a minority, among his own he will also find support a scare commodity.
We applaud the actions of the Court of Appeal and believe that while one decision will not make everything that is wrong right, it will certainly go a long way in telling members of the public that while the process may be long and frustrating, redress can be achieved if you are prepared to persevere.
It is extremely important that members of the public are made to feel comfortable when they place their hard-earned cash in the hands of an attorney, or when they place their trust in him or her, operating on the premise that any settlement or award received will be handed over in reasonable time and in the prescribed amount.
This need for trust and confidence would not be so important if “the system” had not been so designed that individuals were required by law to engage an attorney in order to complete certain processes or transactions. Since John Public has no alternative but to engage a lawyer, then those who prescribed the system have an overwhelming duty to ensure they are protected from unscrupulous or unprofessional members of the profession.
What we hope those who are responsible for the system realise, however, is that while justice might appear to have been done on the behalf of British-based Barbadian Patricia Simpson who filed the case against Fields, the fact that this matter is almost a decade old will remain of concern to those who have been watching.
Such matters should not take this long and should certainly not be so unfriendly to the individual who believes that he or she has been wronged by an attorney. Yes, interpreting law, gathering evidence and coming to a conclusion can be highly complex, but the system should never be seen as aiding and abetting in frustrating the complainant.
When the laws are written by lawyers, interpreted by lawyers, breached by lawyers, the complaint has to be made to lawyers and the subsequent hearing presided over by lawyers, it is only reasonable to expect that the complainant and public will be suspicious at every step of the way.
It is therefore incumbent on those who preside over the system to ensure that the conduct of these matters occurs in such as way as to suggest some reasonable effort is being made to swing the balance back toward the side of the aggrieved.