The Press Statement of Seenath Jairam SC
“In early October 2012 I was asked if I would accept a brief on behalf of the Ministry of Finance to appear on its behalf in the commission of enquiry into the failure of CL Financial Ltd, Clico, British American Insurance Co (Trinidad) Ltd, Caribbean Market Brokers Ltd and the Hindu Credit Union Co-operative Society Ltd.
“I communicated my acceptance to those instructing me, promptly wrote the usual letter to my colleagues from whom I was taking over and immediately commenced work in preparation for the upcoming ninth evidential hearing of the commission. “Since my acceptance of the brief, there have been various public comments, including comments about my continued involvement in the matter.
“In light of these public comments, I thought it wise that I should consult with my colleagues at the Bar, all of whom fully and unequivocally stated that there was no good reason for me to return the brief. “Notwithstanding these assurances it has become abundantly clear that my continued acting as counsel for the Ministry of Finance will reflect upon my position as president of the Law Association.
“It is neither my wish nor desire to even remotely embroil the Law Association, an independent democratic body, in any conflict which may have its roots in political partisanship. “I am aware that past presidents of the Law Association (all eminent leading counsel) as well as members of the council, have accepted briefs from the various governments of the day without public complaint.
“For my part, in this instance, I feel a moral obligation to subordinate my own professional interest to the interest of the Law Association and have decided to return a challenging brief. “I wish to emphasise that all clients are entitled to terminate the services/retainers of their attorneys at any stage of the engagement or retainer and to replace them with new attorneys of their choice.
“This is an integral feature of the client’s right to counsel and is no reflection on the competence or professionalism of the attorneys either removed or newly-appointed. “I am satisfied that I breached no ethical professional standards by accepting the brief from the Ministry of Finance, but given the public perception as manifested in the media, I consider that as president of the Law Association I should lead by example and therefore return the brief.”
Seenath Jairam SC
October 18, 2012