Attorney locks horns with GLC over signWednesday, July 28, 2021
BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
An order by the General Legal Council (GLC) that attorney-at-law Vaughn Bignall remove a sign bearing the name Bignall atop a building in the Corporate Area housing his legal practice by this Friday has been met with a terse rejoinder by the lawyer.
“Bignall Law has no proprietary interest in the Bignall building. Further, Mr Bignall's ownership and use of the said building falls outside of the remit of the General Legal Council,” the attorney said in a crisp response to questions posed by the Jamaica Observer on the issue yesterday.
The GLC, in a June 21, 2021 letter addressed to Bignall captioned 'Removal of the signage atop of the “Bignall” Building', said it was of the opinion that the signage was in breach of Canon II (d) subsection (iii) of the Legal Profession (Canons of Professional Ethics) (Amendment) Rules, 1998 which states that an attorney may advertise in connection with the attorney's practice, provided that such advertising shall not be vulgar, sensational or of such frequency or otherwise such as would, or would be likely to adversely affect the reputation or standing of any attorney or the legal profession.”
It went on to say that the council is of the view that the “Bignall” lettering atop the building is inextricably linked to the law firm “Bignall Law”, which is located within the said building .
“Given the nature of the relationship with 'Bignall', the lettering ought reasonably to be regarded as an advertisement for the law firm Bignall Law, particularly as there is also a sign with the name 'Bignall Law' beneath the said “Bignall” atop the building,” the GLC said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Observer.
Furthermore, the GLC said it was of the view that “owing to the size, night-time illumination and the location (immediately opposite the Parish Court for Kingston and St Andrew and along a major thoroughfare), of the Bignall lettering, “it is deemed as sensational and vulgar and consequently a breach of the said Canon”.
The GLC said under the circumstances the signage should be removed by this Friday.
Last year May, news emerged that Bignall had filed a lawsuit against the GLC to determine whether attorneys can lawfully advertise their services.
Basically he had asked the court for a declaration that the GLC's decision, issued on September 26, 2018, “abrogates, abridges, or infringes the claimant's rights as guaranteed by Section 16(2) of the Charter [of Fundamentals Rights and Freedoms]”.
He also asked the court to issue an order quashing the September 26, 2018, GLC decision “as being null and void and of no legal effect”.
Additionally, Bignall named the attorney general as the second defendant in the matter.
In October 2019, the Observer reported that the Advertising Regulatory Committee of the GLC, in its annual report for the 2018-2019 year had said it had to write to 11 attorneys-at-law advising them that their websites, advertisements in the Yellow Pages, on the Internet and in social media, were in breach of the rules.
“The nature of the breaches ranged from advertising summer specials at reduced rates, sole practitioners practising using the business name '& Co', attorneys claiming to be specialists and implying superiority over other attorneys,” said the committee.
It said a number of the attorneys responded favourably to its letters and agreed to remove the advertising while thanking it for its guidance, while others had ignored the letters.
The committee said it had advised the GLC of those attorneys who refused to comply with its directive in an effort to get them to desist.
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