The BVI Bar Association has its own disciplinary and complaints procedure, which is enshrined within clauses 6 and 7 of its Constitution. The relevant provisions are set out below:
- Any Member who shall fail in the observance of any provision of the BVIBA Constitution, or of any Rule made and published by the Council thereunder, or who shall have been guilty of any act or practice or conduct which shall have come to the attention of the Council and which in its view is calculated to bring discredit on the legal profession or to lower its status, may by a resolution of the Association adopted by a two thirds majority of the Members present and voting made on a recommendation of the Council be reprimanded, or suspended, for a period not exceeding six months, or shall have his membership of the Association terminated. Such Member shall have at least seven days' notice in writing sent to him by the President or the Secretary inviting him to attend the meeting of the Council inquiring into the act or practice or conduct as aforesaid; and the Member shall have the right to be heard in his defence, to be represented by counsel or a friend, and to know the reason for any finding against him.
- The Council shall whenever necessary establish a Disciplinary Committee of three persons comprising of two Members and a representative of the general public. The Disciplinary Committee shall be charged with the duty of upholding standards of professional conduct and the investigation of professional misconduct by Members of the Association.
- Any person aggrieved by an act of professional misconduct by any Member of the Association may make a written complaint to the President.
- The President shall cause a copy of the complaint to be served on the Member concerned and shall request a response thereto within a period of 21 days. The Council shall thereupon consider the complaint and the response thereto (if any) at the earliest opportunity. If the Council considers the response to be satisfactory it shall forward a copy thereof to the Member and the complainant and shall close its investigation. In any other case the Council shall appoint a Disciplinary Committee and shall forward all papers relating to the complaint to the Disciplinary Committee.
- The Disciplinary Committee shall within 21 days after receipt of the papers fix a date of hearing and notify the complainant and the Member thereof.
- The Disciplinary Committee shall regulate its own procedure and shall hear all applications in private and may extend or abridge time for doing anything under under these provisions. Decisions of the Disciplinary Committee shall be by majority vote. Both the complainant and the Member shall be given an opportunity to be heard.
- If the Disciplinary Committee shall determine that no case of professional misconduct has been made out against the Member it shall notify the Member, the complainant and the Council accordingly with the reasons for its decision.
- If the Disciplinary Committee shall decide that a case of professional misconduct is made out against a Member, the Disciplinary Committee shall forward to the Member, the complainant, the Council and to the Chief Justice, a report of its findings and the reasons for its decision and may recommend to the Council that the membership of the Association by such Member be terminated. The powers of the Association are therefore limited to those express sanctions.
The Association's Council and membership is comprised exclusively of legal practitioners admitted to practice the law of the British Virgin Islands. The Council and membership are therefore bound not only by the BVI Bar Association's disciplinary and complaints procedure, but also by (i) the Code of Ethics, Mandatory Provisions and Specific Prohibitions contained within Schedule 4 to the Legal Profession Act (2020 Rev.); (ii) those provisions of the Legal Profession Act which fall under the purview of the General Legal Council and the Disciplinary Tribunal; and, (iii) all civil and criminal laws enacted in the Territory of the Virgin Islands, and elsewhere (where applicable).
Please note, in particular, that the Disciplinary Tribunal of the General Legal Council has significantly broader powers than the BVI Bar Association insofar as disciplinary action is concerned and can, amongst other things, order the removal of legal practitioners from the Roll, suspend them, impose fines and/or order compensation.
Download the Code of Ethics