A lawyer’s boastful claim that his close links to the government could help problematic clients buy a Maltese passport has been referred to the Commission for the Administration of Justice.
In a statement, the Chamber of Advocates said the Commission’s Committee for Advocates was the competent organ at law having the necessary powers to investigate alleged breaches of the lawyers’ code of conduct.
Lawyer Jean Philippe Chetcuti Chetcuti Cauchi Advisory was secretly filmed by an undercover French journalist explaining how files pertaining to problematic passport applicants could be given a new lease of life with a nod and a wink from the right minister.
A magistrate this week referred the case to the Chamber of Advocates, over an alleged breach in the lawyers’ code of ethics.
The court said the breach stemmed from Dr Chetcuti Cauchi acting as a director of Chetcuti Cauchi Advisory.
Lawyers as company directors
In its statement, the Chamber said fact that an advocate is a director on one or more companies is not in itself a breach of the code of ethics.
“Indeed, the rule pointed out by the court itself in its decree does not say that. That rule in effect prohibits advocates from providing the listed services as a form of business or commercial enterprise.
“This is a rule that re-affirms the principle that the practice of law cannot be conducted as a business, where profit is the main driver, but has to be conducted as a profession, where profit is subservient to ethical conduct”, the Chamber said.
In light of its referral of the case to the Commission for the Administration of Justice, the Chamber said it would be prudent to await that investigation before any “firm view” was taken on the matter.
The Chamber said it would continue to follow developments on the matter.
Chetcuti Cauchi's passport sale license was suspended last month and a full review of all files submitted by the law firm is under way.