A well known legal luminary and former Ombudsman, Francis A. Gabbidon has had his name deleted from the Roll of Court for a period of five years, as a result of his criminal conviction for fraud and dishonesty.
The decision was reached by the General Legal Council at a meeting held on the 12th May 2010 after having considered his conviction in the High Court on 9th July 2009 for offences involving fraud and dishonesty.
The General Legal Council also ordered that within forty-five days after the notification of the letter, Francis Gabbidon should file an affidavit with the former that all his current clients should be notified of the Council’s decision.
However, the General Legal Council further indicated that Francis Gabbidon shall be at liberty after the expiration of the said period of five years to apply for his name to be reinstated.
The letter dated 25th May 2010 reads thus:
Dear Mr. Gabbidon
“At a meeting held on 12th May 2010, Council considered your conviction in the High Court on 9th July 2009 for offences involving fraud and dishonesty. Council’s attention was drawn to your Notice of Appeal against the said judgment and your letter addressed to Council in 2009 informing Council that you had appealed your conviction. Council is in receipt of your Notice of Abandonment of the said appeal dated 30th October 2009.”
The letter went on stating, “Section 36 (1) of the Legal Practitioners Act No 15 of 2000 as amended by Act No.13 of 2004 provides as follows: “….that it shall be lawful for the Council, in the case of a legal practitioner who has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty, (a) to suspend him from practice while he pursues an appeal against such conviction, if any and (b) to delete his name from the Roll of Court after he had exhausted his right of appeal against such conviction if any”.
“Council is satisfied that the crimes, for which you were convicted, are among those contemplated by Section 36(1) cited above. And considering that you have abandoned your appeal against your conviction, Council acting pursuant to Section 36(1) (b) of the said Act, has resolved as follows:”
“Your name: Francis A. Gabbidon shall be deleted from the Roll of Court for a period of five (5) years such period to run from the date of the Notification of Abandonment of Appeal.”
It also states that, “You shall file within forty-five days following this letter, an affidavit with the General Legal Council that all current clients of yours have been notified of Council’s decision i.e. your inability to practice law in Sierra Leone for a period of five (5) years.”
“You shall be at liberty after the expiration of the said period of five years to apply for your name to be reinstated,” and “you shall, with immediate effect, cease holding yourself out as a legal practitioner in Sierra Leone.”
In a brief chat with Awoko yesterday, Reginald Sydney Fynn Jnr, the scribe of the General Legal Council, indicated that, “it has happened before” stressing on “it should send signals to all lawyers that we have a very sensitive responsibility to society.”