|Justice is in trouble in Barbados|
Whilst we have been covering, in detail, the many serious issues that Bajans are facing, regarding rampant corruption, land fraud and professional misconduct amongst lawyers who are members of the Barbados Bar Association, there is another issue which needs to be addressed : the unauthorized practice of law in Barbados, by non-lawyer paralegals. These individuals, who do not have the benefit of a legal education, but who are offering legal services to the public, and can do more harm than good to the public they are seeking to serve.
One paralegal, carrying on the responsibilities and duties of a lawyer representing a client, is known to have been imprisoned, several times, in prison, serving a number of sentences after multiple felony convictions. In truth and in fact, that was where he learnt to be what we call a "jailhouse lawyer," one who advises convicts with their legal problems. After his release, he opened up his shop, offering his services to the public, taking advantage of a non-existent enforcement environment in Barbados, where there was little supervision, official, professional or otherwise, over the legal profession.
The problem is, when non-attorneys fill out forms for clients who really need lawyers, they often do not fully understand the scope of the client's problems. Not trained, as lawyers are, in issue perception, they fail to recognise key issues, and actually harm their trusting clients, who erroneously believe that the paralegal his competent, and fully understands the law, who he or she does not.
We understand the reality in Barbados; many Bajans simply cannot afford to retain a lawyer; other do not trust local lawyers, due to the rampant corruption and land fraud that infects the country. Nevertheless, receiving, and acting upon, bad advise can aggravate existing legal problems, and actually make them worse.
The large number of newly-licensed attorneys, who are looking to be of service to their country, should be funded, as a group, by the Attorney General, to serve the public interest, in a clinic format, to provide what the people of Barbados desperately needs: lawyers with integrity who will solve the people's problems. Miss Mottley, pay attention; solve your country's legal problems, or leave office, forthwith.