By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Bahamas Bar Association’s Ethics Committee received over 100 complaints against attorneys in 2019, its president Kahlil Parker said yesterday.
Mr Parker, speaking during the opening of the 2020 legal year, said the Bar Association’s ethics committee received 126 new complaints last year.
The ethics committee held four hearings in April, July, September and December and heard 23 matters.
As a result of those hearings, eight attorneys were reprimanded, three matters were dismissed, seven were referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal and five matters were adjourned.
The other matters have been set for hearing something this year. Mr Parker said both the ethics committee and the disciplinary tribunal are making “every effort” to deal with the backlog of complaints lodged.
During his speech, Mr Parker also drew Chief Justice Brian Moree’s attention to members of the Bar awaiting “timely and proper consideration” of “long-standing” applications to be appointed Queen’s Counsel.
Mr Parker said members of the Bar are awaiting “fair and reasonable” consideration of long-standing applications for judicial appointments and promotions.
“The pathway to the Bench and senior legal offices in this country must be meritocratic, straight and narrow, and it must also be transparent and accessible to all,” he said.
“There are members of the Bar and Bench qualified and ready to serve their country and all they want is a reasonable and fair opportunity to be considered.
“We insist that a public commitment be made to ensuring meritocracy, transparency and due process in the appointment of Queen’s Counsel and the appointment and promotion of all judges and judicial and legal officers.
“This must include the reasonable and public advertisement of vacant posts, a clear and detailed application process, and meaningful consideration of applications and consultation with the Bar with respect thereto.”
Mr Parker further noted that the Bar Council regularly advertises for judicial and senior legal officer positions available abroad, and said he and his colleagues insist “upon a level playing field for our members at home”.
Mr Parker also said 22 new attorneys were called to the Bahamas Bar in 2019.
In 2018, Mr Parker said the Bar Association’s ethics committee received 76 complaints for 2017. At the time, he said six matters were closed and three were settled. One complaint was withdrawn.
Four of those complaints were referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal, Mr Parker said at the time. Complaints not referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal were either awaiting information from the complainant or a response from the attorney concerned and were said to be under “active review” by the Ethics Committee.