Grenadian Attorney Disbarred After Failure To Return Client’s Money

(CMC) – A 71-year-old lawyer has been disbarred as a result of professional misconduct.

Justices Raulston LA Glasgow and Victoria Charles-Clarke struck Brenda Wardally-Beaumont’s name off the court’s roll of attorneys-at-law on Wednesday, agreeing that she was guilty of professional misconduct in the discharge of her duties as an attorney-at-law when she failed to return the sum of EC$304,419.99 which she held in trust for her client, Joel Ganpot.

The High Court judges also ordered Wardally-Beaumont to pay all outstanding monies together with accrued interest due and owing to Ganpot, within six months.

“The Registrar of the High Court shall effect the appropriate changes to the court’s roll of attorneys-at-law and shall cause the requisite notices to be published in the Official Gazette,” the ruling stated.

It is unclear whether Wardally-Beaumont will challenge the matter at the OECS Court of Appeal.

According to the facts of the case, in or around April 1999, Wardally-Beaumont represented Ganpot in matrimonial proceedings. As part of ancillary relief proceedings brought further to the matrimonial proceedings, he was ordered to transfer his interest in the matrimonial home at True Blue to his former wife.

In April 2005, Wardally-Beaumont received the sum of $304,419.99 on Ganpot’s behalf, which represented monies he was entitled to as part of the settlement of the ancillary relief proceedings.

Between the period June 2006 and June 2007, Ganpot had letters sent to Wardally-Beaumont demanding payment of the settlement sum. However, she failed to pay up.

Approximately two years after Wardally-Beaumont received the money, Ganpot filed a claim against the lawyer, seeking payment of the amount along with interest and costs. In July 2009, judgement in default of defence was entered for Ganpot against Wardally-Beaumont in the sum of $308,248.69.

The attorney subsequently applied to have the default judgement set aside, but on October 3, 2007, Master Cheryl Mathurin refused the application and awarded Ganpot EC$600 in costs.

Between October 4, 2007, and January 2009, Wardally-Beaumont made sporadic payments towards the debt. On January 13, 2009, a consent order was entered requiring Wardally-Beaumont to pay the sum of EC$10,000 every quarter until judgement in the sum of $300,971.11 together with all costs awarded to Ganpot and interest at six per cent per annum was paid in full, starting April 30, 2009. However, the payments stopped after some time.

In her affidavit explaining why the money was not deposited to Ganpot’s account, Wardally-Beaumont claimed it was her office administrator who failed to make the payment.

“With respect to the deposit of the money, she did not personally deposit the money into her client’s account at Republic Bank. She says that it was the responsibility of one Patricia Cadore Charles, who was, at the time, the office administrator in her firm, to deposit monies into the client’s account and to distribute monies to clients.

“When she made inquiries into her client’s account, she discovered that the balance was insufficient to make the payment to Mr Ganpot and, as a result, she decided to trace where the funds went. She avers that this was not the first occasion that client’s money went missing from her office,” said the affidavit.