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Bar Association fines lawyer for misconduct

Paphos lawyer Emily Lemoniati has been fined for misconduct by the Cyprus Bar Association after breaching her client’s instructions and the Association’s code of professional ethics.

THE Cyprus Bar Association (CBA) has this week fined Paphos lawyer Emily Lemoniati €1,000 for misconduct after she failed to register her clients’ 2005 property sales agreement, then waited three years to amend, sign and file a new contract without her clients’ instructions.

Lemoniati’s clients, Scottish expats Andrew and Patricia McClay, complained to police in 2009 but it has taken the CBA’s disciplinary board until now to reach a verdict on the two charges of “showing conduct contrary to the advocates’ profession”.

The first, according to board president and Attorney-general Petros Clerides, was for failing to register the sale agreement for the McClays’ home, dated 25 October 2005.

The second was issued because, on or around 21 October 2008, Lemoniati used a power of attorney given by the McClays without their instruction, to issue a sales agreement of which they were not aware.

Board chairman Doros Ioannides said: “It is clear that the accused lawyer breached her clients’ instructions and breached the code of professional ethics and therefore we find her guilty on the said charge.”

He also said: “It is with great difficulty that we do not impose to Ms Lemoniati the highest sentence, that of the deprivation of her licence to perform her profession and we only impose a monetary fine that of €1,000.”

It is unclear why Lemoniati delayed the registration of the original document.

Andrew McClay, who has since returned home to Scotland, said: “The guilty verdict is out there but the sentence is disappointing. I took her to court because she’d broken the law and forged the property contract… that fine is not really very much is it?”

However, a defiant Lemoniati fiercely denied any wrongdoing, adding that the McClays suffered no loss and that she was acting in her clients’ interests all along by using her power of attorney.

She told the Sunday Mail: “I simply don’t care (about the judgement) because I didn’t steal money or do anything unethical. I registered the contract with a slight delay…of a few months… only to safeguard my client.”

Her vehement denial also seems to have alarmed the board.

Ioannides wrote in the board’s meeting minutes: “It is with great surprise that we have noticed that what Ms Lemoniati stated, does not constitute mitigation or any other apology towards the Disciplinary Board but rather stigmatises the persons who made the complaint and which in any case, the Disciplinary Board found her guilty.”

He added: “What the Disciplinary Board expected from Ms Lemoniati, was at least to apologise to the complainants.”

Instead, Lemoniati said she would now appeal the board’s “unfair” decision and sue McClay for defamation, after he allegedly commented about her on a website based in the north.

McClay denied ever commenting on such a website about Lemoniati.

“It is not the intention of Mr McClay to get justice.” Lemoniati said: “He just wanted to make a problem for me… He made comments on a north Cyprus website mocking me because I could not come (to a disciplinary board hearing) when I was pregnant… where is the respect?”

Her name now appears on several websites, such as: http://www.ripoffreport.com, whatswrongwithcyprus.eucy.info, bewarepaschalicyprus.com/ and several chat forums, where details of her previous conviction, imprisonment and subsequent presidential pardon for driving offences can be found.

Moreover, she claimed to have more than 15 people ready to testify against McClay: “This is ridiculous, this person is insane. Maybe he has a personal issue with me. He does not care about his wife… he has a mania about Emily Lemoniati, every morning he wakes up and his intention is Emily Lemoniati.”

“I will chase him until the day he dies… no matter what. I’m going to make his life a nightmare.”

Asked if he would continue to pursue Lemoniati, McClay said: “I don’t think so. It seems like a complete waste of time and money and there’s nothing to be gained. It’s just more grief and hassle that we don’t need.”

“The guilty verdict is out there” he added.

Readers' comments

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  • martyn benstead says:

    I found out that my solicitor whom I used to buy my apartment was also the solicitor for the developer.

    When I first meet her she told me she studied in the UK for her degree, but in the UK its not ethical to represent and buyer and seller, oh I forgot they make up they own laws in Cyprus to suit themselves.

  • andyp says:

    @ Gavin Jones. Thanks but not hard.

    They screw us and then blame us for pursuing them, forgetting that we trusted them and paid them to protect us, and then try to hide behind rather than uphold the law. Not this time.

  • Geo says:

    “Why the good lawyers in Cyprus do not speak up and rid themselves of the likes of Emily Lemoniati does however concern me. I do not get that.”

    Because there are more bad ones than good, mob rule. The bad ones float to the top like the proverbial.

  • Gavin Jones says:

    Andyp.

    I will endeavour to reply to your final paragraph.

    Firstly, Cyprus is a typical example of a society which, because of the size of its population, stifles any form of finger pointing. The principle reason for this? Family relationships and interwoven alliances going back generations. Anyone daring to override this arrangement is ostracised, has their property damaged or worse.

    Secondly, the members of regulatory body of the legal profession, The Disciplinary Board of Advocates, are part of the unholy alliances as described above. Furthermore, it may well be that they all have proof of misdemeanours against one another and that if one of them is brought down, certain Board members will go down too.

    Regrettably, I can’t see the system changing any time soon.

    In recent Italian history, two magistrates, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, took on not only the Sicilian mafia but also related corruption in government and the judiciary. Much headway was made but they both paid the ultimate price and were assassinated.

    Are there any Cypriots out there who would be brave enough to clean up their own judicial system?

    Finally, well done to you for sticking to your task in the Emily Lemoniati case. An inspiration to all the waverers out there.

  • andyp says:

    Victims need to speak up.

    For too long these small number of crooks have got away with “murder” and they rely on us saying nothing. They are cowards and simply spout their venom towards anyone who catches them out and more particularly uses the law to publicly name them in order to warn others.

    They are neither ashamed nor sorry just hacked off that they are now in the public eye. We put our trust in them and paid them to protect us. They did not.

    If you have a complaint file it. They will not change and grasp the reality that trust and respect is more important than money. They just want money and do not care how they get it.

    Why the good lawyers in Cyprus do not speak up and rid themselves of the likes of Emily Lemoniati does however concern me. I do not get that.

  • jon frazer says:

    The Disciplinary Board seems to saying that it is unable to mete out the punishment it would wish to in this case.

    Now who, or what, is preventing that?

    I ask that rhetorically, as it is obvious to me, at any rate.

    This is clearly a case of nepotism, favouritism and corruption at the top. (Like previous interventions by the same party).

    The EC website on corruption issues urges that the Commission is informed of such breaches; perhaps this case is one such.

  • @James JH Lockhart – If people cannot be bothered to report these matters to the police and/or raise a complaint with the Cyprus Bar Association nothing will ever change.

    I know of one person whose complaint was accepted by the Bar and he was invited to present his case in front of the Disciplinary Committee; he didn’t turn up!

    With no evidence, the Committee reject the complaint.

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    A point not mentioned in this thread is the relationship between the Attorney General and the Disciplinary Board of Advocates (connected to the Cyprus Bar Association). Apparently, the AG is not only a member of the DBA but also chairs it. Indeed, decisions of the DBA are sent out by him on his AG letterhead,not that of the DBA or the CBA.

    There is an inherent conflict of interest for an AG (or any law officer) to be so closely involved in the disciplinary committee of the lawyers’ professional body. This conflict rears its head whenever a lawyer is charged, and especially if convicted, of an offence against the law. It happened when this Lemoniati person was convicted and jailed for a serious driving offence, with the AG demanding that the President pardoned her (which he did). How far did this same conflict of interest (i.e. protection of a wayward lawyer versus protection of the public) influence the AG’s overarching decision on excessive leniency as chairman of the DBA in this latest Lemoniati case?

    To maintain demonstrable impartiality in upholding the fair administration of justice, the AG should relinquish all involvement with the business of the DBA and the CBA. Won’t happen though, will it! He’d rather maintain his all-powerful position and the parody of justice in Cyprus. Perhaps he is unaware that law students in various countries now use these weird judicial ‘arrangements’ in Cyprus as a ‘how not to do it’ case study.

  • James JH Lockhart says:

    Nigel

    Is it not time to say enough,

    The police as many who have found flatly refuse to involve themselves in criminal cases where a lawyer is involved.

    This leads back to the Attorney General strange ruling that fraud was a civil offence. The AG is MIC in prosecutions so from that point on every policeman was hamstrung.

    The CBA Leadership well Emily shown her contempt I am sure 95% of the 1920 plus members feel the same.

    The majority of Cypriot lawyers are honest but the minority ie the corrupt & compliant run the CBA.

    Maybe you used ask the CBA President Doros to come on the forum and reassure us all by answering questions. This Doros can show all that a Cypriot CBA president can be trusted.

  • Gavin Jones says:

    C. Woodward.

    Yes. By all means take Nigel’s advice as you’ve nothing to lose.

    However, nobody needs to tell you what the outcome is likely to be.

  • @C. Woodward – You should report the matter to the Cyprus Bar Association.

  • C. Woodward says:

    Regrettably we suffered the doubly unfortunate experience of dealing with both MRI and Emily Lemoniati who’s unprofessionalism and collusion with those in positions of authority has left us with unrecoverable debts.

    Similiar to the McClays we have discovered through employing a new lawyer that she took the ‘POA’ as a means to do whatever she liked.

  • @Geo – At least in the UK you can search the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal decisions published by the Law Society Gazette. In Cyprus, the whole thing is kept under wraps.

  • Gavin Jones says:

    Why is it in Cyprus that wrongdoing here is always compared to events in the U.K or elsewhere? It’s almost like factoring in a certain volume of shoplifting into a supermarket’s budget as being acceptable and shrugging one’s shoulders over the loss.

    Wrong. It’s patently NOT the same in other countries and the U.K Law Society, although not perfect by any means, does not operate and deal with its wayward members like the discredited Cypriot Disciplinary Board of Advocates.

    The case highlighted in this article is but one of many. The Board acts like a medieval guild, never dispenses justice to fit the crime and brings disgrace to its profession.

  • @stevem – I hope that you have reported this matter to the Police and the Cyprus Bar Association and have the evidence to substantiate what you say.

    Also, there isn’t a licence to ‘do property stuff’ as long a lawyer has a licence to practice – that’s all that is needed.

  • stevem says:

    Emily Lemoniati was our brief in our other problem investment, apparently she was a family lawyer and wasn’t licensed to do property stuff. when we had problems we went back to find her (office was opposite APs old office) only to find she’d disappeared. We were told she had been jailed for fraud. Let me add that people who also had her was ripped off by giving her money so that she would register at land registry only not to do it a stole the money. she was also complicit in double selling one property. Taking money for conveyancing and not registering. Then taking money from another person and then registering them. THIS ALSO ALLOWED THE CONSTRUCTOR TO DOUBLE SELL AND TAKE TWO PAYMENTS FOR THE SAME PROPERTY….mmmm

  • Geo says:

    The CBA is no different to the SRA in the UK, they are there to protect the Solicitors/Lawyers and not for the purpose of disciplining anyone.

    The LCS was a good setup with Lawyers who actually independently investigated wrong doing and acted, so what happened? They were shut down and a toothless organistion of Non Lawyers called the Legal Ombudsman was setup. They have no legal training at all so how they assess correctly.

    Its not just Cyprus.

  • John Swift says:

    It seems to me that Emily Lemoniati is rather unstable from her comments, it is the duty of these sites to name and shame to protect others.

    Quite frankly the Cyprus Bar Association (CBA) should be taking another look at her fitness to practice after her outbursts.

  • Gavin Jones says:

    The Paphos lawyer involved in this squalid case, Emily Lemoniati, displays the arrogance, bluff and bluster more akin to a Middle Eastern dictator and she’s a disgrace to her profession.

    She delayed lodging a property sales contract by 3 years, citing this misdemeanour as being merely a “slight delay”.

    This is bad enough. Far worse is the verdict of the Disciplinary Board of Advocates, the regulatory body charged with protecting the public from its own members engaging in fraudulent and negligent acts. Its judgement is a lily-livered response to undisguised, blatant deception. Not only has it taken the Board years to deal with this case, the paltry €1,000.00 fine handed down to Ms. Lemoniati is a travesty and affront to natural justice. Presumably she’s been allowed to continue practising despite being found guilty.

    In most people’s minds nothing less than being struck off would be the verdict which would be commensurate with her crime: for crime is what she’s committed.

  • Matthew Ring says:

    She sounds as unhinged as the establishment that fails to adequately censure anyone who evidently falls so short of the required professional standards of personal conduct.

  • andyp says:

    There are a few omissions from today’s CM article regarding our case which I would like to highlight but in respect of which I and the Board of Advocates have all the relevant paperwork, indeed some of it was sent to me by The Board.

    By not registering our contract in 2005 the developer registered a 640.000.00 mortgage, or thereabouts, on our development and thus 10% was on the land my house stood. This mortgage charge was applied in 2006. During the trial we were informed that this mortgage had been cleared by the developer.

    As part of lemoniati’s defence, bearing in mind this was OUR lawyer,she advised the DBA in writing that she could not register the contract because——- the developer did not own the site at the time the contracts were signed. Sorry say that again.

    To top it all we stuck to the agreed payment plan and it transpired that we paid out over 60k PRIOR to the developer actually buying the property.

    The DBA, my new lawyers (whom I might add discovered most of this as I was blissfully unaware) and I have a copy of this letter so these facts cannot be challenged as she, in her wisdom, put them in writing.

    Beggars belief.

    Andrew McClay

  • Andrew says:

    What do you have to do to get struck off I wonder?

  • James JH Lockhart says:

    So all a dodgy lawyer has to do is put a 1000 euros from the money she obtained from the client, stick it in a bank account with say 5% interest and wait 7 years so she can pay the massive fine and have a good night out in the capital on the interest.

  • Robert Briggs says:

    Fined €1,000? That is small change to these people!

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