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A-G To Lawyers: Be Cautious When Balancing Profession And Business

A-G To Lawyers: Be Cautious When  Balancing Profession And Business
Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (middle), with the Fiji Law Society president Laurel Vaurasi (left), and Chief Justice Anthony Gates at the Fiji Law Society’s annual convention on September 1, 2017. Photo: DEPTFO News
September 02
12:49 2017

A total of 320 complaints against lawyers in Fiji were pending before the Fiji Law Society since 2009.

This was highlighted by Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum as he addressed lawyers at the Fiji Law Society’s annual convention on Friday at Yanuca Island, Sigatoka.

These complaints were pending before the Society which previously looked into complaints against lawyers before the setting up of the Independent Legal Services Commission in 2009.

From 2009 till 2017, the Legal Practitioners Unit has received 2481 complaints against lawyers, the Commission has heard 96 cases which saw 11 lawyers suspended and five disbarred, some disbarred for life.

“It is very important for us as lawyers to have an independent process to be able to restore, if you like, that level of integrity required of the profession.”

Lawyers, he said, should not fear such independent processes and this is why the Commissioner of Independent Legal Services Commission needs to be independent and not fraternise with the legal profession.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said most complaints against lawyers were regarding money held in trust accounts of lawyers and also explained that some cases arose from ignorance rather than an intention to defraud.

Using this as an example, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said lawyers should not have a dichotomous approach when balancing their profession and business.

“You need to run your practice like a business, you need to pay yourself a salary, you need to be able to understand the demarcation between money that is yours and money that is entrusted to you to hold,” he said

“You have certain duties to the courts, to your clients and to hold the law. But, you need to be able to run your profession as a business.”

Edited by Karalaini Waqanidrola

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