‘Rogues and bullies have infiltrated legal system’
Attorney-at-law Philip Nicholls has delivered a damning indictment of the legal system here, claiming it has been infiltrated by “rogues” and “bullies” who discredit the profession.
Nicholls fell from grace in October 2013 when he was arrested on charges of money laundering and theft of $674,172.
A still bitter Nicholls, who recently released a book chronicling the events that led to his downfall, including the demise of the law firm Cottle Catford, told Barbados TODAY he now loathed the profession.
“Right now I detest the law. If I never saw another law court in my life I would not miss it,” the angry attorney vowed.
He stressed that the majority of lawyers were principled and “above board”, but that a few unethical ones had left him questioning whether it was still a noble profession.
“It is one of the noble professions that came out of ancient times, but right now it is practised by one or two rogues. There are many very good lawyers and many young impressionable ones that need guidance and help [and] there are many senior lawyers who are above board. However, if you have a system that allows a couple of rogues to flourish and do what they feel like because they feel they are bullies, then it spells danger,” Nicholls told Barbados TODAY.
He described the judicial system as dysfunctional and expressed anger about his own lengthy wait for justice, saying the whole episode had left a bitter taste in his mouth.
“If I am an attorney-at-law and can encounter so much trouble, what about the average man on the street? I have endured 20 years of constant litigation and it has taken away my ability
to do other things.
“I detest what the dysfunction in the system has allowed two or three individuals to do. It is the same individuals popping up all the time. It has allowed them to make the law look like a toothless lion.”
The offences with which Nicholls was charged were said to involve a foreign real estate client. He remained adamant during the interview that he had done nothing wrong.
“I am particularly piqued about the money laundering charge. I felt the charge was completely ridiculous. Money laundering is taking ‘dirty money’ and investing it in legitimate businesses or financing terrorism. In the contract where you have had a sale of land, how can you say you have taken dirty money and made it clean? It is an above-the-board contract. How can it also be the proceeds of criminal activity? I would challenge anyone to show evidence where I have gained from any defalcations that occurred,” he insisted.
Nicholls complained that his house had been repossessed and was still miffed that “I have not had adequate protection from the local judicial system because some attorneys have continued to accuse me of money laundering”.
Having discovered that his United States visa had been cancelled when he attempted to check in for a flight at the Grantley Adams International Airport, Nicholls slammed Washington for this action, arguing that it was hypocritical to condemn him even though he had not been convicted in court.