Is it Ever Acceptable for an Attorney to Ask a Minister to Do a Favour for a Client? I do not normally respond to jibes and insults. Any blogger who opens fire in the direction of others must expect to be fired back at. However, there was one comment posted on ‘Big Chief” that requires a response. The anonymous commentator, among other things, said,
“All of you, including Brent, have on occasions requested some Government Minister to address a problem you faced from the Civil Service Staff. To assist you in a situation not to your liking but which may have been in strict compliance with a Law or Regulation. You were all granted your assistance. Its no different now.
Why the sudden ‘Virtue’?”
It is a corrupt form of government that permits a Minister to bend the law for a favoured supporter. It is dangerous and corrupt for a lawyer to ask a Minister for a special favour. That is unacceptable conduct under any system of government. Ours is a small society. There are so many petty spites and hurts. There are so many cousins and supporters who come seeking a favour. It is a particularly pernicious and evil system in a society such as ours.
Our representatives are elected to the House of Assembly to represent all the people’s interests. They select the Executive branch of government from among themselves. The Executive branch develops national policy. They bring that policy to the members of the Legislature as a Bill or Motion. The Legislature debates the Bill, and passes it into law, or rejects it. The Judges adjudicate when there is a dispute between citizen and citizen, or citizen and government. The Public Service reads the law passed by the Legislature. They apply that law impartially and fairly to all citizens. They make no exception, except within the bounds set by the law. That is our Westminster-style Constitution at work in its ideal form.
No Minister is permitted to contact a public servant and tell him or her to make an exception for a favourite of the Minister. Nor, can a Minister ring up a public servant and tell him or her to treat one citizen more severely than another. We are supposed to have a system of government of laws, and not of men. That is how we ensure government works fairly and equitably.
What Brent was complaining about is that in
We would not have a system of government by law and not of men if a foreign employer were to fire an Anguillian employee for stealing, and the Chief Minister could tell the employer that he either re-hires the employee or he loses his work permit. That is a system of government that Anguillians want to avoid.
That is the system of government they have in Antigua and
I cannot speak for Brent. I can only speak for myself. I practiced law in St Kitts between 1971 and 1976. I never approached a Minister and asked him to make an exception for a client.
I practised law in
Ministers of Government came to my office for legal services. I charged them a fee. I never performed free legal services for a single one of them. I would not have wanted them to think they owed me a favour.
I would be ashamed to think that a single present-day lawyer in
The comment in question quoted above is not only not true, it reflects badly on whomsoever wrote it.