Lawyer faces jail for failing to pay money to client
A senior attorney is facing the prospect of potentially being jailed for contempt of court after she failed to abide by a court order to repay a little over $200,000 to a former client.
On Tuesday, lawyers representing Charlene Roberts filed a contempt of court application against attorney Dawn Seecharan-Nancoo.
According to the court filings, obtained by Guardian Media, in November 2016, Roberts retained Seecharan-Nancoo to obtain a grant of probate in relation to the estate of a deceased relative.
Seecharan-Nancoo allegedly instructed Roberts to pay her legal fees and place the estate’s $292,243.49 in an escrow account to be managed by her (Seecharan-Nancoo) until distribution to the deceased relative’s beneficiaries.
Roberts was forced to retain new attorneys Martin George and Sarah Lawrence to sue Seecharan-Nancoo as the work was not completed and the money was not repaid.
In March, High Court Judge Joan Charles upheld the lawsuit and ordered Seecharan-Nancoo to repay the money and the fees she received.
Seecharan-Nancoo made the initial payment but did not make any monthly instalments in April, May and June.
Seecharan-Nancoo sought an extension on the monthly payments, which Roberts and her legal team granted, but she reneged on her promise.
Lawrence claimed that Seecharan-Nancoo was in contempt three times as she missed three monthly payments.
In the application, Roberts’ lawyers requested an urgent hearing as they claimed that they suspect that Seecharan-Nancoo would flee the country in a bid to escape clearing the arrears on the debt.
Roberts’ attorneys were still awaiting a date for the hearing of their application, up to late yesterday.
In August, last year, High Court Judge Frank Seepersad granted a similar committal order against attorney Kathy-Ann Mottley in a similar but unrelated case over an unpaid debt to a former client.
In that case, Seepersad ordered Mottley to be imprisoned for 60 days after she failed to repay Wendy Phillip.
Phillip sued after Mottey failed to pay her $113,000 from $360,000 in compensation she (Phillip) received in a lawsuit over her son’s death.
Mottley was able to avoid the jail term by clearing the debt before Seepersad’s order could be executed.
However, in February, another former client Canute Antoine obtained a committal order against Mottley for failing to repay him $209,142.02, as ordered by the Disciplinary Committee of the Law Association in 2016. High Court Judge Avason Quinlan-Williams ordered that she be arrested and imprisoned for a year but allowed for her to be freed if she repaid the sum before the sentence had elapsed.
Guardian Media understands that the money was never repaid and Mottley is yet to be arrested and imprisoned, in accordance with the order, as she can’t be located.
By: Derek Achong