Seven grounds

Bar president seeks to stop attorney Vonda Pile from practising

An action has commenced in the High Court to bar attorney-at-law Vonda Pile from practising law in Barbados.

Attorney-at-law Vonda Pile.
Attorney-at-law Vonda Pile.

The application was filed on Monday by Tariq Khan, attorney for the claimant Norman McDonald Nurse, who wants Pile to be denied any right to be heard in any local court in her capacity as an attorney.

Khan, who is also president of the Barbados Bar Association, complained in an affidavit – a copy of which has been obtained by Barbados TODAY – that Pile was in breach of the provisions of the Legal Profession Act CAP 370 because her practising certificate was invalid since she had not paid her annual Bar subscription as required by law.

Tariq Khan, attorney for the claimant Norman McDonald Nurse.
Tariq Khan, attorney for the claimant Norman McDonald Nurse.

Khan is asking the court to make the following orders: That Pile’s practising certificate is invalid; that she is not entitled to a right of audience before any court, and that she pay the costs of this application by way of a Wasted Costs Order. Khan attached a draft of the order he wants the court to issue.

The Bar Association president is basing his application on seven grounds. Apart from her non-payment of the annual Bar subscription, Khan is arguing that the Legal Profession Act states that no person may practise law unless he/she is the holder of a valid practising certificate; that Pile is fully aware of these requirements and was notified by the Bar on March 26, 2015 that her failure to pay, rendered her certificate invalid; and that her deliberate election not to pay had led to the present application before the court.

In his affidavit, Khan recalled that on April 23 he had made a preliminary application before High Court Justice Dr Sonia Richards, in the absence of the parties to the claim, that Pile be denied a right to be heard before the same tribunal as legal representative for Florence Norde.

“In response, Ms Pile stated and relied on a resolution purportedly made by Judicial Council in 2008 that no action would be taken against attorneys-at-law who had failed to pay their annual subscription to the Bar Association, or words to that effect,” Khan’s affidavit added.

The document also noted this exchange and that Madam Justice Richards had determined that Pile produce copies of the alleged Judicial Council minutes and resolution in respect of the issue of fee payment and provide him with copies as well. Both lawyers were also directed to reappear before the court the following day to further determine the preliminary issue Khan had raised.

“In any event, the Honourable Judge determined that I issue a formal application before the Honourable Court setting out the relief I had sought by way of my preliminary application.  The application herein is therefore made pursuant to the Order of the Honourable Judge and I have also included an order for wasted costs against Ms Vonda M Pile . . . ,” said Khan’s affidavit.

He also outlined that he had written Pile on March 26 in his capacity as president of the Bar informing her that she had failed to settle her annual fee to the association. He stated that he had also informed her that this was a breach of the Legal Profession Act and that her practising certificate would therefore be deemed invalid.

“On 22 April, 2015, I obtained confirmation from the Bar Association that Ms Vonda M. Pile has failed to date to pay her annual subscription to the Bar Association,” the court document said.

Khan is arguing that while Pile is relying on the minutes of the annual general meeting of the Bar in 2008 which noted agreement not to pursue the fee issue any further, no resolution of any such gathering has any binding effect whatsoever on the provisions of the statute which sets out the terms under which attorneys can obtain a valid practising certificate and enjoy the rights of audience by any court.

The matter is scheduled to be heard on June 29 at 9.30 a.m in judges’ chambers.

9 Responses to Seven grounds

  1. Rawle Maycock
    Rawle Maycock May 8, 2015 at 2:15 am

    I hope, the rules an regulations would be enforced.

  2. Tony Webster May 8, 2015 at 6:28 am

    While this might also be offered as something of a test-case, it is simply cold soup. Very cold , thin soup. A side dish to the main course, which remains…raw, and very un-cooked.
    To mix the metaphors completely, we really do not need a cook, or even a chef, to fix the total “system of justice” here; we need a surgeon wid big balls (sorry, I meant scalpels) , and and even bigger back-bone; and one who has some sense of what is meant by Pride and Industry.

  3. Peggy Stoute Morin
    Peggy Stoute Morin May 8, 2015 at 7:17 am

    She’s not the only one.

  4. Vasco Stevenson May 8, 2015 at 8:59 am

    What is the annual fee for attorneys to maintain their licence to practice?

  5. Mac10 May 8, 2015 at 11:55 am

    I find it hugely offensive that you go to such lengths to bar a lawyer for not paying the Bar Association their dues when you do very little to bar those lawyers that steal or should I say “withhold” clients money, sometimes for years with little or no consequences as long as they (very reluctantly) eventually pay the money back.

    When you significantly address that at issue, maybe then the Barbados public with begin to trust Barbados lawyers again.

    • Kevin May 8, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Ermm, I think that particular lawyer was arrested and charged a couple years back for ………… (allegedly)

    • Peggy Stoute Morin May 8, 2015 at 6:34 pm

      She (allegedly) has feather fingers too in respect to clients’ money. Why go after her for lawyer fees and not for purloining clients’ funds? Please tell me it’s because it is already been dealt with and if found guilty she will be removed. Didn’t we recently read that one of your senior attorneys was behind in his dues and said he wasn’t paying them if VAT was included? I get the impression that if Mr. Khan were to go after these lawyers in an even-handed fashion, and they were sanctioned, there would be very few left to practice law in Barbados.

  6. carson c cadogan May 8, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    As far as I am concerned this a is a storm in a teacup.

    They are bigger issues for the the President to look at.

  7. Donna Harewood May 11, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Much, much bigger issues! We the public care not a fig about bar fees! What about dealing with the dishonest lawyers? What about working with all the players to speed up our Injustice system? Stupse!


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