Friday, October 19, 2012

Karl condemns Jairam for taking government brief; Seenath, Toney quit

Karl Hudson-Phillips
Karl Hudson-Phillips on Thursday suggested that Law Association president Seenath Jairam acted unethically when he accepted a brief from the Ministry of Finance.

Earlier this month the Ministry of Finance gave the CLICO/HCU Commission of Enquiry brief to Jairam, Congress of the People (COP) chairman Joseph Toney and Jagdeo Singh after dismissing two lawyers - Fyard Hosein and Michael Quamina - who had spent 18 months on the case.

In a letter to Jairam, Hudson-Phillips said: "Attorneys are under no obligation to accept all briefs regardless of the circumstances surrounding the matter. It is not a question of entitlement to work ("eat a food"), as one of your juniors is reported as stating, or of professional competence to do the legal work involved.

"It is a rule for the protection of fellow colleagues in the profession to whom a special and very high duty is owed. Your conduct as president of the Law Association can be likened to that of the president of a trade union who accepts a vacancy caused by the lockout of a member of his union by an employer. That is called 'scabbing'.

"I fear that you have done irreparable damage to the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago and to the legal profession. As president, you have failed to demonstrate an adherence, not to the highest, but to the most basic principles of professional etiquette and conduct of the Bar," he added.
The letter coincided with a decision by Jairam and Toney to return the brief to the ministry, leaving Singh as the only lawyer for the ministry of Finance. The enquiry resumes on Monday.
Seenath Jairam

Jairam issued a statement in which he pointed out that based on the "public perception manifested in the media", he was bound to lead by example and return the brief. 

He noted, however, that the advice he received was that there was no need to take the action he did and that he had not breached any ethical or professional standards . 

Toney explained that he did it because taking the brief was causing "tremendous discomfort" to members of COP. 

"Although there is nothing wrong with being hired by the State in my professional capacity, there was public discomfort. I did not want anyone to think that the office of the chairman of the COP (Congress of the People) can be bought or compromised," he said.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai