Attorney-General Responds To Shawn Crockwell

July 8, 2016

[Updated] Attorney-General Trevor Moniz has responded to comments made by MP Shawn Crockwell about a letter he received, saying that Mr Crockwell’s statement is “incorrect.”

Trevor Moniz Bermuda July 8 2016

During his speech last Friday announcing he was resigning from the OBA, Mr Crockwell said that he received a letter from the Attorney-General which said that as Mark Pettingill was a former Attorney-General, they were “prevented from representing any client against the government.

Mr Crockwell called it “economic intimidation,” “completely and totally absurd” and said he was “astonished” to be told that he “cannot freely practice my profession in my country.”

In response, Attorney-General Trevor Moniz said that Mr Crockwell has “incorrectly stated that by letter to him I had ‘instructed’ that neither MP Pettingill, MP Crockwell nor any member of their firm could represent any client against the government. This statement by the Honourable and Learned Member is incorrect.”

Mr Moniz said he did object to MP Crockwell and Pettingill & Co. representing a particular client in a particular matter as “aspects of the dispute were connected to a contractual matter, features of which were subject to advice by the Attorney-General and came before Cabinet for decision on two separate occasions” in 2013 when Mark Pettingill was serving as Attorney-General.

“Counsel in Chambers raised concerns with me that there was a material conflict of interest with MP Crockwell representing that particular client in that particular matter,” Mr Moniz said, adding that “Rule 24A of the Bar Code of Professional Conduct states that this prohibition against acting for a client applies where lawyers have access to information they would not otherwise have had were it not for their former capacities.”

Mr Moniz added that his letter said, “As a result of the above, I invite you, your firm and anyone working for your firm, to remove yourselves from this matter and to avoid representing either [the client] or any other persons against the Government in future so that any potential conflict of interest and any potential breaches of the Code can be avoided.”

Shawn Crockwell’s Comments

Last Friday, Mr Crockwell said: “I went back into private legal practice, and I have to say that I was quite pleased that I immediately was able to acquire a respectable volume of clients.

“Quite a large, probably about 60% of my clientele, Mr. Speaker, had issues against the government. Whether it was a wrongful dismissal from a government department. Whether it was an application to the liquor licensing authority. Whether it was appealing a decision of the Chief Immigration Officer.

“The largest entity in this country is the government, the largest employer in this country is the government. There are going to be a plethora of legal disputes against the government.

“They came to me and they sought my assistance, and I have to tell you that I acted for these individuals, and to my astonishment, Mr. Speaker, I received a letter from the Attorney-General, and I will not get into the details of the letter, because that is client privilege, Mr. Speaker, at this stage, but I received a letter from the Attorney General which instructed me that because the honorable member Mark Pettingill was a former Attorney-General of this country, that he and I, and anyone else that worked at the firm, was prevented from representing any client against the government. Completely and totally absurd. Unheard of.

“Of all of the former Attorney-Generals that we’ve had in this country, that have represented clients against this government, as a matter of fact Mr. Speaker, my honorable business partner, is a well-known highly respected litigator, that has litigated up to the Privy Council multiple times, if this instruction is to be followed, it will completely paralyze his practice, and destroy at least 60% of mine.

“I was astonished that as a former colleague of the cabinet, that I would be told that I cannot freely practice my profession in my country. That is economic, Mr. Speaker, intimidation.”

Attorney-General Trevor Moniz’s Comments

Speaking in the House of Assembly today, Mr Moniz said, “I stand today to respond to the statement made last Friday evening during the motion to adjourn by the Honourable and Learned member for Constituency 31, Shawn Crockwell.

“In his statement, MP Crockwell has incorrectly stated that by letter to him I had ‘instructed’ that neither MP Pettingill, MP Crockwell nor any member of their firm could represent any client against the government. This statement by the Honourable and Learned Member is incorrect.

“First of all, let me confirm that I did send a letter dated 3 June 2016 to MP Crockwell. That letter arose from correspondence between a client of his and the Bermuda Police Service in respect of a dispute. I will not go into any more detail than that out of respect for the interests of his client, although I take the view that MP Crockwell has waived any legal privilege by raising the matter in public.

“Second, I did object to MP Crockwell and Pettingill & Co. representing that particular client in that particular matter. The reason for this is because various aspects of the dispute were connected to a contractual matter, features of which were subject to advice by the Attorney-General and came before Cabinet for decision on two separate occasions during the course of 2013 when the Honourable and Learned member for Constituency 25, Mark Pettingill was serving as Attorney-General.

“Counsel in Chambers raised concerns with me that there was a material conflict of interest with MP Crockwell representing that particular client in that particular matter.

Audio of the Attorney-General’s statement in the House today

“In my 3 June letter, I sought to inform him that as a result of him acting for this client in this matter, there was a potential breach of the Barrister’s Code of Professional Conduct 1981.

“With your permission, Madame Deputy Speaker, let me read rule 24A of the Code, which I quoted in my letter and which all members of the Bar must adhere to.

“Where a barrister or a member of his staff who has acted on behalf of a client in a matter, irrespective of the nature of the matter, subsequently joins another firm ["the new firm"] which acts or has the opportunity of acting for a party with interests adverse to those of the former client, he or that staff member and the new firm should cease or decline to act in the matter if he or the staff member is by virtue of his former capacity in possession of material information which would not properly have become available to him in his new capacity: Provided that the Bar Council may, after ascertaining the views of the former client, exempt a barrister or a member of his staff from the above requirement.”

“MP Pettingill served as Attorney-General from late 2012 through to mid-2014. The Government of Bermuda was his client then. His present firm, which includes MP Crockwell, now represents a client in a dispute against the Government.

“The foundations of this dispute involve a contract which made its way through the Attorney-General Chambers partly during MP Pettingill’s tenure as AG. Cabinet made two separate decisions in respect of that contract with MP Pettingill participating as Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General and MP Crockwell participating as a Minister. In my opinion, there is a reasonable perception of a conflict of interest.

“Rule 24A of the Bar Code of Professional Conduct states that this prohibition against acting for a client applies where lawyers have access to information they would not otherwise have had were it not for their former capacities. If the client in question had hired someone other than MPs Pettingill and Crockwell, they would not possess the knowledge and information of two former Cabinet Ministers, one of which was Government’s principal legal adviser.

“There is nothing untoward or surprising about this rule and about its application in the present case. The Code of Professional Conduct applies each and every time a lawyer leaves one firm to join another. You will often see law firms having to give up files for this exact reason. And Government is as much a client as anyone else and should be entitled to the same level of protection afforded to any other private person.

“What is interesting, Madame Deputy Speaker, is that Rule 24A of the Bar Code Conduct has a proviso which states very clearly that MPs Pettingill and Crockwell could apply to the Bar Council for an exemption from this requirement.

“I wrote to MP Crockwell in the following terms in my 3 June 2016 letter: ‘As a result of the above, I invite you, your firm and anyone working for your firm, to remove yourselves from this matter and to avoid representing either [the client] or any other persons against the Government in future so that any potential conflict of interest and any potential breaches of the Code can be avoided.”

“I politely invited MP Crockwell to take this course of action to avoid the perception of anything untoward. This cannot be said to be an instruction or ‘intimidation’.

“This letter was not the end of the matter. MP Crockwell wrote back to me on 7 June 2016 and took issue with my invocation of rule 24A of the Bar Code of Conduct. He also stated that his firm ‘have instructed Queen’s Counsel to thoroughly address this issue with a view to sending you his legal opinion in due course.”

“At the time, I appreciated and accepted this professional courtesy of his. I was therefore more than surprised when he made his statement in the House last Friday.

“I have not received a copy of the QC’s opinion which was promised me. Thank you Madame Deputy Speaker for the opportunity to state the facts and we still look forward to resolving the matter.”

Update July 9th: Mr Crockwell responded to Mr Moniz during last night’s session of the House, the audio is below:

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Comments (44)

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  1. watching says:

    “I wrote to MP Crockwell in the following terms in my 3 June 2016 letter: ‘As a result of the above, I invite you, your firm and anyone working for your firm, to remove yourselves from this matter and to avoid representing either [the client] or any other persons against the Government in future so that any potential conflict of interest and any potential breaches of the Code can be avoided.”

    That quote from the letter clearly states to me that the AG Moniz is asking Crockwell and all employees at Pettingill and Co to avoid representing any client against the government to avoid any potential conflict. Which if I am remembering correctly, is what Crockwell said in the House last week.

    • Just the Tip says:

      Except that MP Crockwell spoke as if he was being told not to service any one with a grievance with the government. AG’s quote clearly shows he is talking about a single client. There is a big difference between to two with it sounding like MP Crockwell might have stretched the truth a bit

      • Gargoyle Wings says:

        Since you seemed to have skipped over this part:

        “… or any other persons against the Government in future…”

        • Guy Smiley says:

          You’re still missing it. He “invited” them not to represent clients against gov SO THAT they wouldn’t be seen as breaching code of conduct, i.e. so if/when they win the case people cannot point fingers and say they had inside info on what to do and government’s thoughts. Basically so people can’t say they’re corrupt.

          • These fools have been breaching de code of conduct day one.

            • These fools have been breaching de code of conduct since day one.

            • OBSERVER says:

              Agreement here, ONION JUICE.
              We are not the only 2 who think like this.

              • Bullnose says:

                You’re not the only two idiots.

                • OBSERVER says:

                  TO BULLNOSE.
                  Stick to the issue.
                  Moniz is the idiot. Guess you fall into his pattern of thinking too.
                  That is great.
                  You think your foolishness and others will think theirs.
                  Hey!!
                  Looks like that party is falling APART.
                  What would be your sensible thoughts on THAT????

        • Just the Tip says:

          I saw it but in my understanding when linked with “As a result of the above, I invite ….from this matter …” I took it to mean this case. Maybe I’m wrong but either way the letter is words as a recomondation and not as a threat or instruction.

      • aceboy says:

        But but I thought he said he was going to do something he should have done more of….tell the truth. Seems like an admission of telling porky pies in the past….but he couldn’t even tell the truth when he said he was telling the truth. Crazy.

    • Terry says:

      Define “matter” Watching.

      More bullsheet from you.

    • Zevon says:

      No. Crockwell said his firm was being “prevented” by Moniz from representing anyone against the government.

      That is not the case. The Moniz letter merely points out that rule 24A prevents such representation.

      So the government is not involved in a restraint of trade, or anything like it. The Moniz letter doesn’t do much other than point out to Crockwell he has to live within the Bar rules.

      Seems like Crockwell is very unhappy the minute he treated like any other person would be treated.

  2. San George says:

    Let the infighting begin! You have a one seat majority; your exercise of power will cause you to lose what power you have. There will never again be a super-majority in the HoA – get use to it. You will have to govern for all, not just for the few. So, the PLP did accomplish something when they led the government; you just missed it.

    • innna says:

      ya they accomplished plunging this country into dept and deviding the hearts and minds of the people ensuring that progress and prosperity have no future in this ignorant and hateful island

    • OBSERVER says:

      TO SAN GEORGE:
      Excellent comments.
      As one would say….. SPOT ON!!!!!!!

    • Um got to much brains says:

      Yes because we all want the PLP in power again , they did such a great job . Where is has Bean?

  3. aluminati says:

    Jesus that was a lot to say Trevor! I was taught when I was a kid that the liar usually has to say a lot to make fortify his or her story – the truth is very compact – your statement was not!

    I find it also interesting that feel the need to remind Crockwell and Pettingil of potential conflicts of interest…that speaks directly to your belief that they are of a lesser standard in law than you are. I suppose your “BAR” is a litte higher…

    • Gargoyle Wings says:

      Exactly, he took a whole week to come up with this story.

    • Just the Tip says:

      Or perhaps he was making MP Crockwell aware of the conflict after all the case is being worked by MP Pettingil and let us all remeber who the legal advice was for the whole ‘Jetgate’ issue and how that looked.

  4. Unbelievable says:

    Shawn may have been genuinely angry at the OBA but like I said elsewhere, Shawn Crockwell got played by whoever made that complaint about him. They were looking to thin the ranks of the OBA in House and this was their opportunity.

    • Terry says:

      Shawn did not get played at all.

      This is a well orchatrasted event by the PLP and Dr. Dread.

      You will see.

      Mark my words.

      • Unbelievable says:

        Well this is kinda what I am saying.

  5. Frank says:

    “I wrote to MP Crockwell in the following terms in my 3 June 2016 letter: ‘As a result of the above, I invite you, your firm and anyone working for your firm, to remove yourselves from this matter and to avoid representing either [the client] or any other persons against the Government in future so that any potential conflict of interest and any potential breaches of the Code can be avoided.”
    I read “to remove yourselves from this matter“
    The letter says this matter,it does not say all matters

  6. Vote for Me says:

    Come on English majors…

    ‘…or any other persons against the Government in future so that any potential conflict of interest and any potential breaches of the Code can be avoided.”

    This statement says do not represent this client or any other client against the government.

    Whether readers think this is an ‘invitation’ or ‘instruction’ basically does not matter. It represents a characterization for MPs Crockwell and Pettingill to limit their practice.

    Note also that his firm agreed to send the letter to a QC for comment. If his firm disagreed with Crockwell’s interpretation his firm would not have sent the letter to a QC for comment.

    • Zevon says:

      It is not a letter “preventing” Crockwell from doing anything. It also does not limit Crockwell’s practice.

      It is a letter reminding Crockwell that if his firm handles a specific type of case, the firm would appear to be in contravention of the Bar rules.

      What we are sering is that Crockwell gets upset when he has to play by the rules that apply to everyone else.

  7. Having read Mr. Moniz’ s verbose letter for the masses, I am left to wonder why he was not able to put the truth in one or two paragraphs? Some seem conscious and aware of the real deal. Is this Dr. Dread a member of OBA OR PLP., another resignation in the works?

    • Zevon says:

      The Moniz letter is shorter than the Crockwell resignation statement. Why wasn’t Crockwell able to put the truth in one or two paragraphs”?

  8. bluebird says:

    So mr crockwell has had another Hissy Fit,can’t get his own way.
    He wants to be Premier.
    The Government is “TOO BIG” we have to down size it by at least 50%.
    If we don’t we will never get rid of the HUGE DEBT that the previous Administration CREATED Like $2Billion dollars of “DEBT”
    Where this “OBA” is creating $1Billion dollars of investment (not debt)
    There is a difference you see as the $1Billion dollars of “INVESTMENTS”
    will not cost us Half a Million Dollars per day in interest going out of Bermuda to pay on the DEBT of the money BORROWED that nobody seems to know where it went to.
    OH! yea as the finance minister “I AM ONLY THE COG IN THE WHEEL” we are just doing so fine.

  9. steve says:

    Moniz explained the disagreement with timelines and while recaping emails/correspondence. I find this believable. Now lets move on with our lives.

  10. Kinnie says:

    So sick of it all. Call the election pls. Wordsmithing is getting my ARSE. Tired of Fahy, Dunkley, Bob, Sylvan. Get cracking.

    • steve says:

      I agree with you Kinnie I hope the PLP get elected and do great however i have yet to see one sign in 20 years that indicates they will. I do like the idea of sitting back and watching them attempt to fix the problems they created.

  11. takbir Sharrieff says:

    What a can of worms………..

    • OBSERVER says:

      Yes, the U.B.P./oba are a ” CAN OF WORMS”.
      If one more U.B.P./oba departs, there would have to be an election…. sooner than later.

  12. Ed Case says:

    I am very disappointed in the oba. I voted for them and expected better than this. If thru their vanity and stupidity, they let Bermuda slip into the hands of the plp, it will be over. Kiss Bermuda goodbye. Plp will finish what they started and Bermuda will become truly third world and poor.

    Oba get your act together please. We are on the edge of an abyss, and your stupidity is astounding. Another plp government will push us over the edge never to come back.

    Read this as often as required.

    • Unbelievable says:

      I agree. OBA you have shown such terrible judgement while in Government. You were a Govt-in-waiting but what you’ve been instead is a shambles. I believe in what you are doing for the most part but you are entirely a mess of epic proportions. All you had to do was “not be the PLP”. Do all the things the PLP could not, would not or were too afraid to do. It was that simple. Instead you’ve given them so much ammunition. I really do not believe you will survive the next election.

      As for the PLP, I still don’t believe you are a good party to run the Government. You still have not demonstrated AT ALL why you should be the next Government. You are petty, divisive and only have party interest in mind. Your Vision 2025 document is short on details and long on noise. And why wait until 2025? What happened to 2017? Are you planning on missing that year?

      Both parties – Failures.

  13. Peter says:

    Roll on the next election so we can put and end to this farce of a government VOTE THEM OUT VOTE THEM OUT
    Enough is enough and say NO NO NNO NONO NONO to everything they try before then can’t be trusted .
    Rotate the party’s every election

  14. Tired of nonsense says:

    I’m just amazed Shawn responded to the AGM. He certainly isn’t responding to his constituents. Looking forward to hearing from the PLP in the next few months.

  15. Terry says:

    OBA.

    The death knell is loud and clear.
    They raid each others homes.
    They deny each members rights to work.

    They take a seat in the back of a bus that don’t even sell tickets.

    Next election without a doubt the PLP will sweep this island clean and keep the Bermuda’s Cup.

    Shalom.

  16. Dark Star says:

    I would imagine that if you are a gov’t minister then you shouldn’t be representing clients who are taking the gov’t to court b/c you are the gov’t—-this just reeks of a conflict of interest—HELLO idiots!!!

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