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Fake lawyer loses legal battle

The Court of Appeal has quashed a 2013 decision that compelled the Bahamas Bar Council to issue a certificate of good standing and identification card to a fake lawyer.

Shavon Bethel applied for judicial review over the council’s refusal to issue him the documents after he was admitted to the Bahamas Bar.

Then Justice Jon Isaacs ruled in Bethel’s favor after no lawyer appeared on the Bar Council’s behalf at the hearing for judicial review although the council had been notified of the date.

Isaacs also ordered the council to pay Bethel’s legal costs.

The Court of Appeal said that Isaacs would not have made the order had he known that Bethel had lied in his application for admission to both the English and Bahamian Bar.

In his affidavit in support of the application for judicial review, Bethel claimed that he had sat and passed all the exams to qualify for admission to the Bar of England and Wales.

Bethel was disbarred from the Bar of England and Wales in 2018 after it was revealed the law degree that he claimed he had received from the University of London in 2005 was a forgery.

In a ruling delivered on Wednesday, Acting Court of Appeal President Sir Michael Barnett said, “[Bethel] was clearly less than honest in his affidavit in support of the application for judicial review.”

Sir Michael continued, “What he failed to tell the court was that he was dishonest in his application to the Society of the Inner Temple and to the Bahamas Bar Council when he said that he had been awarded a degree from the University of London on the 5th July, 2005.

“That was not true and he had never been awarded a degree by the University of London on that or any date as the Disciplinary Tribunal found.

“He was dishonest in his application for admission to both the English and Bahamas Bar. The duty of an applicant for judicial review to make full and frank disclosure is settled law.”

Norwood Rolle, representing Bethel, argued that the appeal was pointless since Bethel had not applied for renewal of his ID of certificate of good standing.

The court disagreed, saying that the appeal was necessary since the order for costs was still outstanding. Bethel must now pay the Bar Council’s costs.

The court said, “More importantly, however, the appeal is not pointless as the court must be astute to protect its processes from abuse.

“Where a litigant has obtained relief from this court by failing to disclose his own dishonesty he cannot be heard to say that any process to correct any order made pursuant to that dishonesty should not be entertained because the litigant has already benefitted from the order, and no subsequent order would be effective to deprive him of the benefit that he has obtained.”

Bethel has a pending criminal case regarding his misrepresentations for admission to the bar.

Brian Simms appeared for the Bar Council.

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Artesia Davis

Artesia primarily covers court stories, but she also writes extensively about crime.

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