Chuck tells JPs to stop acting like lawyers

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck says Justices of the Peace (JPs) should refrain from giving legal advice to people even as he pointed to the practice of some JPs who behave as if they are lawyers.

“You are someone they expect to know [most things, but] I urge you justices of the peace, you are not trained lawyers so don’t give legal advice. You know you could be sued for misleading someone so be very careful,” Chuck told a sensitisation session for JPs at Golf View Hotel in Mandeville on Friday.

He said JPs who have misled people have added to the backlog of cases at the Administrator General’s Department.

“A lot of the problems [cases] at the Administrator General is because JPs give wrong advice to people. When they come with a piece of paper that they own this parcel of land, sometimes it gives problems at the Administrator General’s Department. There are JPs who believe that they are lawyers, so they can put together an agreement for sale for land in the country; it is not your duty or responsibility,” Chuck said.

“When people want to sell land, I beg you, send them to a lawyer. Lawyers are trained. Yes, you might think that they charge too much but at least tell the persons, ‘I am not in a position to help you with an agreement for sale’… I know there are many justices of the peace across Jamaica who behave as if they are trained lawyers and put people in trouble,” added Chuck.

He also said that while JPs should encourage people to make wills, they should not act as lawyers.

“As JPs the will is simple, but don’t make will[s] for people. Tell them to follow the advice, you might guide them. You know what lawyers do? Lawyers say: ‘I give advice without responsibility’, especially when they are not paid because if they are paid they must take responsibility,” he said.

He said when people don’t make a will “it creates an enormous amount of problems”.

Chuck said JPs should not be reluctant to tell people when they are not knowledgeable on matters. “It is important for you JPs that when you give advice that you are sure, and [if you are not] don’t be afraid to say, ‘I am not sure,’ ” he said.