Apr 14, 2019 News
Some four years after it completed its hearing, the Legal Practitioner’s Committee, (LPC), the committee with oversight responsibilities for attorneys, is yet to make a determination in a case filed against Minister of State Joseph Harmon.
Harmon, who is an Attorney-at-law and current Minister of State, had been taken before the LPC over an alleged failure to reimburse some $500,000 to UK-based Guyanese, Floyd Doris.
The sum was part of an agreement for the sale of a property located on Hadfield Street.
According to documents seen by this newspaper, Harmon was retained as an attorney to deal with the legal aspects of the sale of the property.
Attorney-at-law, Ronald Birch-Smith, who appeared before a committee on behalf of Doris, claimed that the hearings into matter were completed before the LPC some four years ago. The lawyer said that he wrote to the committee on several occasions but only received a promise that the committee would hand down a decision in the matter.
“That clearly never materialized and my client would have travelled to Guyana several times since seeking justice.”
The attorney explained that the LPC has two committees chaired by Senior Counsel. The committees are scheduled to meet twice a month.
Birch-Smith explained that hearings into the matter had concluded in 2015 before a previously constituted committee.
He noted a committee was dissolved before a ruling was made. The newly formed LPC panel is chaired by Attorney-at-law, Andrew Pollard S.C.
In his application, Doris stated that in early 2008 a friend, Collette Britton-Harry, told him that her aunt had a property at Hadfield Street to sell and that “she would get it for me at a good price. Collette and I were friends and I had helped her before.”
He explained that Britton-Harry took him to Mr. Harmon. “I explained what I wanted and he agreed to act as my attorney.”
“The cost of the property was $1.5 million. Mr. Harmon told me the various fees, which I paid to him. I arranged to send other money to him as well.”
Doris said that monies were paid to Harmon through Collette Britton-Harry in various sums.
He claimed, too, that he did not know what the various fees were for, “save that I received a note from Mr. Harmon which sets out fees amounting to $79,800.”
The claimant said that he later learnt that sale of the property was never completed. He said that he was informed by Britton-Harry that her aunt was unable to conclude the sale of the property due to an illness.
“I was informed by Collette that her aunt was in America and she had cancer and could not travel to Guyana to complete the transaction.”
As a result, Mr. Doris moved to have his monies refunded.
He said that he wrote to Harmon on the matter in 2011 but did not receive a reply. In the document, Doris claimed that a second letter was sent to Harmon relating to the refund. That too received no response.
Consequently, Doris said that he sent a friend, Edwin Watson, to ask Mr. Harmon about the money.
“Mr. Watson said Mr. Harmon said he didn’t know me, nor had he received any money from me. I do not remember whether I had sent Mr. Watson before or after the second letter. I sent receipts to Mr. Harmon with Mr. Watson.”
After several weeks of Mr. Watson visiting Harmon’s office, Doris said that Watson was eventually paid $500,000.
“This was paid in the presence of my brother, Ingram Doris, in United States dollars.”
“Another $271,000 was paid to Mr. Watson by Mr. Harmon on 5th February 2013. In April 2013, when I came back to Guyana, I went to Mr. Harmon. He told me that he paid Collette Britton $500,000 and that she withdrew the (sale) from the Court through another attorney.”
Doris, however contends he did not authorise Mr. Harmon to pay any money to Ms. Britton-Harry. It is over the outstanding sum that the UK-based Guyanese has taken Harmon before the LPC.
Harmon on the other hand, claimed that (Collette) Britton-Harry had instructed him that Doris was her cousin and that he was purchasing the property on her behalf.
The lawyer admitted that Doris sent to my office by Ms. Collette Britton-Harry, the sum of $1,440,000.
That a term of the agreement of sale of the property was for the Purchaser to pay the Vendor a deposit of $500,000 and the balance paid on the passing of the Transport.
In his affidavit in response “that after all the documents were filed and before the passing of Transport the said Collette Britton-Harry without informing me, retained another Attorney and withdrew and discontinued the transaction and I am reliably informed, collected the deposit in the sum of $500,000 from the Vendor of the property.”
“That after I was made aware of this development, I called upon Britton-Harry to explain her action but she became uncooperative.”
Harmon claimed that he informed Doris about the status of the case that some $500,000 was paid to his cousin (Britton-Harry).
The lawyer therefore contends that he does not owe Doris any money whatsoever.
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