October 1, 2005 Senior Editor Notices Amendments would deal with convicted lawyers Amendments would deal with convicted lawyers The proposed changes would speed the Bar’s disciplinary process Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Rule amendments clarifying regulations affecting lawyers who have been convicted of misdemeanors or felonies have been approved by the Board of Governors.However, the board, following advice from the Disciplinary Procedure Committee, declined to make any changes to rules that affect arbitration agreements over malpractice in client fee contracts or give additional guidance to judges reviewing contingency fees that exceed limits in the rules.The board acted on recommendations from the DPC at its August 26 meeting.DPC Chair Murray Silverstein said changes to Rule 3-7.2 were intended to bring conformity to the rules and speed the Bar’s disciplinary process after a lawyer has been convicted of a crime. Silverstein said the DPC considered amendments on referral from the Supreme Court.Changes, he said, include requiring attorneys to report misdemeanor as well as felony criminal arrests to the Bar, restating the reporting requirement for court clerks and trial judges, and extending the reporting requirement to state attorneys, if they know the defendant is a member of the Bar. The changes also expedite handling of the case after conviction and provide s that a conviction is conclusive proof for a Bar grievance in misdemeanor as well as felony cases.The board unanimously approved the committee’s changes, which now go to the Supreme Court for its review.On the other two areas, Silverstein said the committee, after extensive study of both, ultimately concluded that no change was needed for Bar rules.The first involved whether attorneys should be able to require in their fee contracts a clause requiring mandatory arbitration of any malpractice claim by the client. The board had earlier approved a similar amendment clarifying that such clauses were allowed in fee disputes.At earlier committee and board meetings, Silverstein said concerns were raised that clients were giving up the right to a jury trial and whether clients should consult an outside attorney before signing such an arbitration agreement. The Citizens Forum also voiced concerns.Eventually, the committee came up with language that arbitration of a malpractice complaint could not be required unless requested by the client, and if proposed by the lawyer and rejected by the client, the lawyer would still have to accept the client.“Ultimately, today the recommendation of the DPC is not to adopt this language,” Silverstein told the board. “It’s been considered that this is essentially a negative or adhesion contract, requiring a lawyer to accept a client regardless of the client’s acceptance of the arbitration clause.”The existing rule, he noted, says a lawyer cannot make an agreement with a client limiting malpractice liability, unless allowed by law and unless the client is independently represented. That would allow the arbitration agreements with protections, and the DPC decided its proposed language was not an improvement, he said.The board voted to accept the recommendation not to make a change.On the contingency fee issue, Silverstein said the committee studied the guidance given to judges in Rule 4-1.(f)(4)(B)(II) when considering upward departures from the contingency fee rules.The issue arose in oral arguments on Bar rules in the Supreme Court two years ago when Justice Kenneth Bell raised a question about the adequacy of direction given to judges in the rule when a lawyer and client come to the court to request exceeding the contingency fee schedule set out in the rules.The current rule commentary advises judges that they should look at whether the contingency agreement was voluntarily entered into and whether the client understands it exceeds the guideline fees in the rules.“We attempted to draft some additional language and ultimately came to the point where it seemed we were micro-engineering what was already in the [rule] comment,” Silverstein said. “The committee came back to the issue of whether it was necessary. No one. . . was complaining about the lack of further guidance, and we have made the determination there is no need to make any further changes to the commentary or the rule.”
Former Black Stars and Asante Kotoko midfielder, Yussif Chibsah has disclosed that his side had no excuse to have lost the 2004 CAF Confederations Cup to Accra Hearts of Oak.Kumasi Asante Kotoko lost 8-7 on penalties at the Kumasi Sports Stadium to their arch-rivals after playing out a 2-2 aggregate scoreline over two-legs.Speaking to Benjamin Nketsia on Citi TV’s, The Tracker, the former midfielder said the loss haunted him and made him stay indoors for days.Personally, I was off for three days. For three days I didn’t go out, I was just indoors. It was just unbelievable.We had Hearts of Oak, we had control of the game and we had no excuses to have lost that cup. But casting my mind back I think Hearts of Oak were destined to win that cup. Because if you look at the first leg in Accra, we took the lead and they equalized in extra time. And in Kumasi, we scored and they equalized and won penalties. In both games, we were on top and just like I say I think it was destiny. Hearts of Oak were just lucky to win that trophy.The former Asante Kotoko player also added that his side had no excuse considering the remunerations that awaited them.That trophy cost us a lot. Looking at the promises we had and our bonuses and other things we were supposed to get. If you look at that, we just had no excuse to have not won that trophy.