Chamber of Advocates refers Chetcuti Cauchi case to constitutional body

The Chamber of Advocates has said that it would conduct its own investigation into Jean Philippe Chetcuti but would wait for the Commission for the Administration of Justice's conclusions before it took any action

Chetcuti Cauchi's director Jean-Philippe Chetcuti at Castille
Chetcuti Cauchi's director Jean-Philippe Chetcuti at Castille

The Chamber of Advocates has referred law firm Chetcuti Cauchi's Director Jean-Philippe Chetcuti's alleged breaches of conduct with regard to the Individual Investor Programme to the Commission for the Administration of Justice.

This was the Chamber's response to Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo's invitation to the Chamber to launch an investigation into fellow lawyer Chetcuti after a French exposé showed the latter boasting of his government connections to what he thought were potential buyers of a Maltese passport.

"The Chamber has already had occasion to point out that it has been, and will continue, to follow developments on the matter of Jean Philippe Chetcuti and Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates. The Chamber has referred the matter to the Committee for Advocates and Legal Procurators of the Commission for the Administration of Justice, as the competent organ at law having the necessary powers to investigate alleged breaches of the code of conduct," the Chamber said in a statement on Friday.

The initial request for a magisterial inquiry into Chetcuti was tabled by Manuel Delia on behalf of the NGO Repubblika.

The Chamber of Advocates said that while it would conduct its own investigation into whether Chetcuti would be stripped of his membership with the Chamber, it would wait for the conclusions by committee.

"In these circumstances, whilst the Chamber is entitled to conduct its own investigation with a view to suspending or terminating an advocate’s membership of the Chamber, it feels that it would be prudent and proper in the circumstances where it has itself requested the Committee to investigate the matter, to await the conclusion of the investigation by the Committee before taking a firm view on the matter," the Chamber wrote.

It added that the fact that Chetcuti is a director of one or more companies is not of itself a breach of the code of ethics but the principle that the practice of law cannot be conducted as a business, were profit is the main driver, was a principle that should apply to all.

"Accordingly, there is, and can be, no penalty contemplated for advocates acting as directors of companies, since it does not constitute a breach of the code. What advocates should absolutely avoid is to undertake any of the services listed in that specific rule in the code through a commercial venture, whether alone or with others," the statement read.

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