Former registrar of the High Court, Vanessa Tamara Gibson-Marks. (iWN file photo)

Former registrar of the High Court, Vanessa Tamara Gibson-Marks has been disbarred from practicing law in the Eastern Caribbean.

Gibson-Marks was on Oct. 14, 2014 fined EC$10,500, one week after she pleaded guilty to a charge of theft of EC$21,925 and abuse of her authority as Registrar of the High Court.

High Court Judge Esco L. Henry and acting Judge Pearletta Lanns in the disbarment ruling on Feb. 18 said that the facts in the case “recount a cautionary tale for barristers and solicitors.

“We take no pleasure in making the orders in this matter. However, the profession and the public interest demand no less,” the judges ruled.

The court heard that Gibson-Marks admitted to dishonestly and improperly misappropriating over EC$300,000 of trust monies deposited in a bank account.

Before she appeared in court to answer the theft and abuse of her authority charge — three months after Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan had asked her to resign, Gibson-Marks repaid $351,576.46 to the bank.

The sum represented the principal sum due to the beneficiaries of the respective trusts and interest paid for an undetermined period.

“The solicitor’s misconduct has besmirched the entire legal profession and the office of the Registrar and has brought the Registry and High Court into disrepute,” the judges ruled.

“We agree with the Honourable Attorney General’s submissions that her conduct ‘fell short of the expectations of an attorney at law in this noble profession’,” they further said.

The judges continued: “The court remains mindful of its duty to protect the public interest and must be ever vigilant and resolute in endeavouring to demonstrate that misconduct among its officers will not be tolerated and will always be met with appropriate sanctions.

“In the premises, we are satisfied that the solicitor by her conduct has demonstrated that she is not a fit and proper person to be retained on the court roll. This is an appropriate case in which to impose the severest penalty. We accordingly declare and order that Tamara Gibson-Marks be and is hereby struck from the Court Roll.”

The judges further declared Gibson-Marks conducted herself improperly and unprofessionally in the discharge of her professional duty by misappropriating monies held in trust account no. 87590 amounting to $350,500 with interest.

They said that she conducted herself improperly and unprofessionally in the discharge of her professional duty by unlawfully converting monies for her own use and stealing said monies amounting to $21,925 from the mediation programme of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.

They ordered that the Attorney General shall on or before April 30, 2016 arrange for a full forensic audit to be conducted of the banking records and official records kept in the Registry to ascertain what if any further amounts are due to the beneficiaries by way of interest or other payment and notify Gibson-Marks accordingly on or before May 13, 2016, incorporating a copy of such audit and supporting documentation, and file a copy at the High Court office.

“Tamara Gibson-Marks shall pay to the Registrar of the High Court any and all such additional sums determined by the audit to be outstanding and due and payable to the beneficiaries of the trust account.

“The Registrar shall arrange for Mrs Gibson-Marks to be repaid any sums found to have been paid by her, in excess of the amount determined by the audit to be due and reimbursable by her to the trust account,” the judges further ordered.

They made no order as to cost.

The Attorney General was represented by Cerepha Harper and Duane Daniel appeared for Gibson-Marks.

4 replies on “Disbarment of former registrar ‘a cautionary tale’ for lawyers – court”

  1. This gel didn’t get the punishment she deserved. A real punishment and deterrent would have been three years in prison, the minimum amount of time she would have served in many other countries, including the United States and Canada. Indeed, in the USA she might have received a 10 year sentence.

    Calling practicing law in the Caribbean a “noble profession” is a slur on the word “noble,” akin to calling picking fares on the streets of Kingstown a “noble profession.” The only difference between this gel and many of our lawyers is that she was stupid or unlucky enough to get caught with her hand in the cookie jar.

    1. C. Ben David, I agree with you 100%. Added to that, were it a regular civil servant at the SVG Registry done that and as a matter of fact, a civil servant in any ministry in the country, that person would have been counting stones in jail now.

    2. Patrick Ferrari says:

      Jail? C. ben, you jest.

      If they sent the thieving wretch to the pokey – where she belongs – she wouldn’t be going alone. She would talk and head a grand cortege of like crooks to where, they too, belong – jail; at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

      Two years ago she volunteered to be disbarred. It was a race to that end between she and the Attorney General. Why did it take so long?

      If I started a sentence with, “The richest politician” you and the rest of St. Vincent and the Grenadines would immediately know exactly who I mean. Them people does hide in plain sight.

      By virtue of the position, a Registrar is privy to a lot of inside information. And if you are a stinking, tiefing Registrar you’d make it your business to know extra, the kind that could damage powerful – for bargaining power when the time comes.

      And it did and the criminal did not go to jail.

      But the man who stole two tomatoes did.

      http://searchlight.vc/man-gets-two-consecutive-jail-terms-for-stealing-two-tomatoes-p56708-83.htm

  2. This definitely shows how the law is applied in the Caribbean: If you have money or in high society; you get a spanking on your hand. When it comes to other folks; it jail time.

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