The Council has been given the statutory mandate and responsibility under Section 3 of the Legal Profession Act to:
- Organise legal education.
- Uphold standards of professional conduct.
Apart from maintaining the ethics of the legal profession to which all attorneys should adhere, the General Legal Council also plays an integral role in the admission of attorneys being enrolled to practise in the several courts in the Island of Jamaica. Over the existence of the Council it has sought the intervention of Parliament in introducing legislation to enhance its powers in carrying out its statutory mandate. As an example of such legislation, there are the Legal Profession (Accounts and Records) Regulations 1999 which became operative in September 1999.
The Council’s functions were substantially extended by the amendments to the Act that were enacted by Parliament in October, 2012. The Council actively promoted the implementation of these amendments for more than a decade.
The Council has the following additional functions as a result:
- A compensation fund has been established to compensate persons for losses suffered as a result of any act or omission by attorneys. Regulations are to be promulgated that will make provision for the funding and operation of the fund.
- A condition of being issued a practising certificate in any year is that an attorney has satisfied the requirements for continuing legal professional development during the previous year. The Council will administer this process.
- The Council can now take action to protect clients’ property, when that property is at risk as a result of developments such as an attorney dying, being declared bankrupt or leaving the island without making suitable arrangements for clients’ files and property.