21st September 2023

Attorney-at-law Fay Chang Rhule is seeking to challenge a Court of Appeal ruling that she is guilty of professional misconduct in the sale of a property and that should be sanctioned by the General Legal Council (GLC)

Chang Rhule was cleared by the GLC’s disciplinary committee but the appeals court overturned that decision stating that the attorney was in breach.

However, she disagrees with the ruling and has filed a motion seeking to be granted leave to go to the United Kingdom-based Privy Council to challenge the decision.

The Court of Appeal ruled last month that Chang Rhule was in breach of one of the canons of the legal profession and must be sanctioned by the GLC.

A hearing was set yesterday by the GLC to determine the sanction to be imposed but it has been put off to July 25.

The GLC regulates the legal profession in Jamaica.

Complainant Angela Smith had reported Chang Rhule to the GLC over the sale of a house in Charlemont, St Catherine.

Smith claimed that without her knowledge and consent, Chang Rhule conducted the sale of the property, which she jointly owned with her husband Denton McKenzie, and paid over the proceeds of the sale to a woman who was involved in an intimate relationship with her spouse.

The woman was identified as Carolyn Alexander.

Smith said she did not sign any power of attorney as she and her husband were incarcerated overseas at the time.

McKenzie also gave an affidavit dated April 9, 2015, in which he denied signing a power of attorney giving permission for the sale of the property.

Chang Rhule had stated in her affidavit to the GCL dated August 31, 2015, that both powers of attorney were signed and sealed by a duly commissioned notary public and as a result she acted in accordance with Alexander’s instructions.

The GCL ruled in favour of the attorney.

Following the GLC’s decision in 2021, Smith took the matter to the Court of Appeal, which ruled in her favour last month and set aside the decision of the disciplinary committee of the GLC.

Attorney-at-law Lemar Neale, who represented Smith on appeal, referred to red flags in the case and argued that the circumstances surrounding the production of the power of attorney were made “more suspicious” in light of the fact that Chang Rhule was informed that both owners of the property were incarcerated.

Neale pointed out that the addresses of the owners were not listed as a correctional facility.

The Court of Appeal ruled that there were sufficient red flags that, if they had been considered by the committee, would have concluded that Chang Rhule should have made checks in respect of the circumstances of the execution of Smith’s power of attorney.

In failing to make further checks and acting in Smith’s purported power of attorney, Chang Rhule breached one of the canons of the legal profession, the court ruled.

A date is to be set for the hearing of the motion seeking leave to go to the Privy Council. 

– Barbara Gayle

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