Tempura lawyer reinstated

A British lawyer who was kicked out of the profession for his role in Cayman’s Operation Tempura corruption probe has been reinstated after a four-year fight to get his career and his life back on track. 

Martin Polaine claimed his life was ruined after he was disbarred for his role in the controversial internal police investigation.  

He was stripped of his right to practice as a lawyer in the U.K. due to a string of alleged offenses, including giving advice on matters relating to Cayman Islands Law without being called to the Bar in the territory. 

His counsel to investigators led in part to the wrongful arrest of Justice Alexander Henderson – a move that led to government being forced to pay more than $1.2 million in damages to the Grand Court judge. 

The U.K. Bar Standards Board has now quashed its original decision and replaced it with a two-month suspension.  

Mr. Polaine said the board accepted that there was no requirement for him to be called to the Cayman Bar. 

“The disciplinary findings against me were quashed and a re-hearing ordered. Although I was not able to put a full account forwards because I was constrained by legal professional privilege, I was, at least, in a position to give an account of some of what occurred,” he added. After the re-hearing, he said, only one of the original charges against him was retained. 

The new ruling, posted on the British Bar Association website, finds the lawyer guilty of “professional misconduct” for failing to properly advise investigators of their “disclosure obligations” in an application to a Justice of the Peace for search warrants of Justice Henderson’s home and judicial chambers. A two-month suspension is imposed for that offense. 

Mr. Polaine emphasized, however, that the board did not pursue a secondary charge that he had acted improperly by failing to advise officers to tell the justice of the peace that previous applications for search warrants in connection with this aspect of the investigation had been denied by the chief justice. 

None of the original charges relating to the lawyer’s right to practice in the Cayman Islands is retained in the new ruling.  

Those charges included giving incorrect advice to Cayman Islands authorities over Justice Henderson’s arrest, while not being qualified to act as a lawyer in the jurisdiction. 

The full findings of the five man panel, which issued its new ruling after hearing evidence from Mr. Polaine in October last year, and the reasons for their decision have not yet been published. 

Mr. Polaine added: “I was able to satisfy the standards board that there was no requirement for me to be called to the Bar in the Cayman Islands, which was the main thrust of the charges against me.” 

He has always maintained that he was authorized by Attorney General Sam Bulgin to work on the investigation and therefore did not need to be called to the Bar in the territory. 

The original hearing in 2009 followed a complaint from Justice Henderson about Mr. Polaine’s conduct, which came on the heels of the judicial review that found the search warrants for the September 2008 raid on Justice Henderson’s home and office were invalid and his arrest was unlawful.  

That ruling, and Justice Peter Cresswell’s finding that Mr. Polaine was not qualified to practice in the Cayman Islands, were the basis of the original, uncontested, decision of the Bar Association to take action against Mr. Polaine. 

The new hearing was the lawyer’s first chance to offer his version of events. 

The extent to which the panel for the re-hearing took a different view of the facts is not clear because their full judgment has not been published. 

Martin-Polaine

Mr. Polaine
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1 COMMENT

  1. Interesting ruling.

    It’s worth reading the original story on this that was published just over a year ago – http://compasscayman.com/caycompass/2013/01/08/Operation-Tempura-ex-adviser-wants-redemption/ – because there’s a bit information there.

    And these are the original seven charges that Mr Polaine chose not to contest in 2009 –

    Between 01/09/08 and 21/03/09, allowing himself to be held out as a barrister, advised the Cayman Island authorities that Judge Henderson had committed the offence of misconduct in public office in circumstances where there was not such a reasonable suspicion and Polaine knew or ought to have known that he was not competent to give legal advice.

    Between 01/09/08 and 21/03/09, allowing himself to be held out as a barrister, advised the Cayman Island authorities that there was reasonable suspicion that there was material relevant to the conduct of the investigation into the offence of misconduct in public office in the home and judicial chambers of Judge Henderson in circumstances where there was no such reasonable suspicion and where Mr Polaine knew or ought to have known that he was not competent to give such advice.

    Between 01/9/08 and 29/10/08, engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in failing to advise the Cayman Island authorities that the application for search warrants of the home and judicial chambers of Judge Henderson should be made to the Grand Court than to a lay justice.

    Between 1st September 2008 and 29th October 2008, engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in that he failed properly to advise the Cayman Island authorities in respect of their disclosure obligations on an ex parte application before a lay justice for search warrants of the home and judicial chambers of Judge Henderson and in reliance upon his advice, the Cayman Island authorities failed to put material facts and matters before the lay justice and misinterpreted other material facts and matters in the application to the lay justice.

    Between 1st September 2008 and 21st March 2009, engaged in conduct which was prejudicial to the administration of justice in that he allowed himself to be introduced as a lawyer before the lay justice who was hearing an ex parte application for search warrants of Judge Henderson’s home and chambers without the lay justice also being informed that he was not qualified to practice as a lawyer in the Cayman Islands thereby creating a misleading impression.

    Between 1st September 2008 and 21st March 2009, engaged in conduct likely to diminish public confidence in the legal profession or the administration of justice or otherwise bring the legal profession into disrepute by expressing a personal opinion to the press or other media to the effect that his advice had been correct thus, inferring that Mr Justice Cresswell’s judgement was wrong.

    Between 1st September 2008 and 21st March 2009, the supply of legal services without insurance cover for professional negligence.

    What this ruling appears to be saying is that in the UK someone can give bad advice to an overseas client and end up costing them around CI2million (that’s the total for the damages award plus legal costs incurred) with relative impunity.

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