… One firm’s licence revoked, two licence holders barred from practising

Rinzin Wangchuk 

The Bar Council of Bhutan punished  four legal firms and  those who violated terms of their licence to practise and other laws on March 21.

The council of six members cancelled Jangchub Dzongkha Consultancy’s licence and its owner Tshering Norbu’s  Thrimdrung certificate and barred him from providing any legal services for violating Marriage Act of Bhutan 1980.

“Such decision was taken in cognizance of the letter issued to the Bar Council by the Family and Child Bench, Thimphu dzongkhag court,” stated in the decision signed by six council members.

The office of the Council reviewed the case on Suo Moto complaint lodged by the Family and Child Bench on October 25 last year intimating that the court had issued a warning letter to Tshering Norbu for mutually settling the matrimonial case of a couple who did not possess marriage certificate on May 5, 2022.

The respondent admitted to the complaint and requested the Jabmi Tshogdey for forgiveness and pledged to refrain from committing such acts in future.

Deregistered from Jabmi enrollment

The council not only revoked jabmi certificate of Ngawang Tobgay but also deregistered him from the Jabmi enrollment list.

Council’s disciplinary committee heard the case after two complainants alleged that he took an advance of Nu 300,000 to represent them in a case for reduction of sentence imposed on two convicts who are serving their prison term in Chamgang central jail. The duo alleged that Ngawang Tobgay refused to reimburse the amount of advance paid as legal fees.

The respondent admitted in the hearing conducted on November 22 last year that he was an employee of the Film Association of Bhutan (FAB) during that time and that he was not allowed to practise. Then he approached Pema Choden, proprietor of Dhendoen Rabsel Law Firm, Thimphu and the two of them jointly took up the case.

In his response to the complaint, he mentioned that Pema Choden was his partner in law firm but it contradicted with what he admitted in person during the virtual hearing. Ngawang Tobgay provided in the response that all the documents related to the case which determined the professional fees were signed with Pema Choden. He asked the committee to inquire Pema Choden about the allegations provided in the complaint.

The committee found that Ngawang Tobgay appeared in the court under the license of Dhendoen Rabsel Law Firm and asked Pema Choden to provide a detail statement since she had not given detailed information in her first statement regarding the complaint. However, in the second statement, she mentioned that she misplaced the documents and failed to provide a copy of the agreement on fees.

The council determined that Ngawang Tobgay in the past had violated the Jabmi Act and was suspended from practising for one year.

“Despite such suspension, he has been again found to be indulging in conduct of unethical behavior, violation of laws, and false promises of reduction of sentences against the court order,” the council stated in its decision which also ordered  Ngawang Tobgay and Pema Choden to reimburse Nu 300,000 to the complainants within three months.

The council also established that Pema Choden had colluded with Ngawang Tobgay in the case. She was reprimanded and directed to pay a fine of three months’ wage rate amounting to Nu 11,250. Failing to comply with the directives shall result in the cancellation of her Jabmi certificate, according to the decision.

The case of perjury 

The owner of Phenday Legal Firm, Dorji Tenzin, was found misrepresenting the witness in a legal dispute case before Paro dzongkhag court in 2018. The council overruled the disciplinary committee due to the seriousness of the conduct whereby Dorji Tenzin had been adjudged by the court for having misrepresented Tashi Jamtsho deliberately and suspended his licence for one year with effect from April 1, 2023.

Two men lodged the complaint against Dorji Tenzin alleging that he represented Sangchung in a case where he furnished a false statement to the court identifying Tenzin as Tashi Jamtsho. 

The judgment passed on June 18, 2018, stated that although Sangchung’s witness was mentioned as Tashi Jamtsho in the agreement, Dorji Tenzin and Tenzin knowingly misrepresented that the witness is Tenzin. It stated that Dorji Tenzin and Tenzin committed perjury. “As someone who provides legal services to the public, commission of such conduct adversely affects the public,” the complainants stated.