Nicole Sylvester calls for Legal Profession Bill
Special Features
March 2, 2007
Nicole Sylvester calls for Legal Profession Bill

A call is being made for the enacting of the Legal Profession Bill, which will set out a procedure for the disciplining of lawyers among other things.

The call is being made by the first female and youngest president ever of the OECS Bar Association Nicole Sylvester who is also in her second term as president of the local Bar Association.{{more}}

Sylvester said that the OECS Bar Association has already drafted the legislation and tabled it with all the Attorneys General in the OECS, and they are now awaiting its implementation in the various territories.

“It will assist the public in the sense that there is a set mechanism if you need to bring a charge against a lawyer,” Sylvester said.

The drafted Bill provides for lawyers to pay annual fees and receive practising certificates, monitors their management of clients’ accounts and their conduct in general.

“This means that anyone, from the time they enter a lawyer’s office will be able to know if they are in right standing or not,” Sylvester explained.

During her time as president of the local Bar, at least 60 complaints have been made against her peers and most have been resolved.

“A large number of complaints proved to be without merit,” she said.

Sylvester, who was called to the Bar in England in 1990, said that the OECS Bar Association is very concerned about the upkeep of the code of ethics for legal practitioners.

“At the OECS Bar we realize that for the administration of justice to function effectively there must be a better outreach between the Bar and the members of the public,” stated Sylvester who admitted that while there has been progress, it is an area that needs a lot of work.

Sylvester told SEARCHLIGHT that the local Bar Association will also like to see membership in the Bar Association become mandatory.

She lamented the perception by some in the public that paints lawyers in a negative light. Sylvester said that it is important to remember that unlike the laws of France, where a defendant is presumed guilty, in St Vincent and the Grenadines a defendant is presumed innocent and has the right of a defence.

“What the public fails to realize is that someone may have committed an offence but there are certain defences that the law allows and those defences are heard in a court of law, and it is the peers of the accusers that determine innocence or guilt,” she said.

She said that it is the evidence that is heard in the court room that affects the outcome of a case and not the perception of people on the outside who did not hear how the matter unfolded in court.

The mother of two boys, and the author of the 1996 book, “The Law Simplified,” Sylvester said that she would not be seeking re-election as the president of the local Bar Association when her current term ends this year.

“There are a lot of other persons with fresh ideas, so I will give my concentration to the OECS portfolio,” she said.