The year 2016 was a challenging year in which the General Legal Council consolidated it operations at 78 Harbour Street and implemented measures to reduce costs and thereby to arrest the trend of running operating losses. This has been a moderate success but there are unforeseen eventualities and expenses over which the Council has no control.
Council has seen an increase in the number of situations where steps have had to be taken to intervene to protect clients’ property in instances where attorneys have died, become incapacitated or struck off.
Sole practitioners are urged to give careful consideration to having an arrangement with another attorney to deal with their practice in event of incapacity or death. Attorneys are urged to put in place arrangements with another practitioner for such eventuality and to notify the General Legal Council in writing of their nomination.
In the coming year many members of the profession will be required to come to grips with anti-money laundering regulations. In this regard, the Full Court has delivered judgment affirming the constitutionality of the Proceeds of Crime Act and the Regulations thereunder. This Regime is applicable to attorneys who engage in certain specified activities. Notwithstanding any appeal from the decision of the Full Court, attorneys are required to become proactive in complying with these requirements and the General Legal Council will assist in that regard by resuming seminars and re-activating its hotline where attorneys can consult with the Investigations Manager who is a qualified attorney.
Attorneys are also urged to pay particular attention to compliance with the Legal Profession (Accounts and Records) Regulations. This is a matter of continuing concern. As stated in a recent decision of the Disciplinary Committee, accounts should not be kept in an exercise book. This is unacceptable and non-compliant attorneys can expect measures to be taken to ensure compliance. Further amendments will also be made to the Regulations to strengthen same, particularly with respect to the exempting provisions.
I would like to thank the members and staff of the General Legal Council, the Disciplinary Committee and all sub-committees for their continued dedication, support and hard work.