Review Of Building Code Underway: A-G

This is the first of a two-part report on the closing of the 17th Attorney-General’s Conference at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa.   Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says Government
14 Dec 2015 09:45
Review Of Building Code Underway: A-G

This is the first of a two-part report on the closing of the 17th Attorney-General’s Conference at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa.


Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says Government is reviewing the Fijian standard form of building contract.

He said it would include the building code,  and certification of builders.

“There are a lot of opportunities there. If you have an interest, please fill free to talk to us,” he said.

He said with the changes more people would become lawyers’ clients because they wanted to know more specifically of how the law worked.

He was speaking at the close of  the  two-day 17th Attorney-General Conference at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa, Natadola, on Saturday.



Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said there was a need to maintain standards. He said some senior lawyers “were talking about how nowadays the younger lawyers don’t know how to address judges ,they turn their backs while addressing the master of the court.”

“I think it is very important that we talk about those issues and one of the things that we have heard and off course you know we try to have a particular level of standard at the conference; this is why we asked everyone to dress up for the conference itself, to maintain that particular sense of elevation regarding the very issues we are talking about and how we address seniors. I think that is a tradition that probably must be kept.”



He said the topics for the conference were quite eclectic.

“Somebody said  to me yesterday, you know the topics you have are really not about law, are they? It’s about general stuff. Infact  it is about the law. It is about legal issues that exist in Fiji at the moment and indeed will likely become more dominant in time to come.”


Reason for conference

He said this was one of the reasons behind having such conference was to “open up people’s minds and get them to start thinking about issues perhaps they had thought about.”

“Some lawyers have been brought up thinking that being a lawyer means only going to court. They think being a lawyer is appearing before a judge or a magistrate. That is part of the law, that is part of the practice but that is not the only aspect of being a law practitioner.

“In fact many people would argue that you need a culture change because this sort of culture of litigation we must move away from and even from a purely commercial perspective, for those of you who are concerned saying time is money.

“I think Mr Amani Bale talked about time is money.

“There are lots of money not going to court , these lots of money in actually doing a good contract, there is lots of money in giving a client good advice not to litigate, in giving a client a solution that will solve the problem.

He said “we need to understand the rationale behind the law we need to understand from a human being perspective what the real issues are, we talked about construction.”

“What are the real issues we talked about? It’s about people and it’s ultimately about people, its ultimately knowing what your clients want and as I said and somebody said to me well you know about construction law, well u know all the four speakers, if you just simply took all their notes, some sub contractor walks in through your door and you just basically spill out what they said, he will say ‘boy this one is a good lawyer.”

“This is precisely the situation because we ourselves have seen the level of advice given as we sit in the government and deal with contracts coming from the other side. It is also in our interest that we get good quality contracts, it is also in our interest that when we do enter into contracts that we are able to reduce or mitigate all these risks as much as possible.

“That’s why we have such topics.”



Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said “there is a lot of work in the private sector, you can create that work. Some of it is very simple like having a good website. I can tell you only one or two law firms in Fiji that are getting the cream of the work because they have a good website. They are able to respond to emails very quickly. If you get into that level of professionalism, you will note you will get lot more work coming through the doors for you.

“It’s very important to understand that, it is also very important to develop relationships whether its investment Fiji or Film Fiji.”

He said when a number of film crews wanted to shoot movies in Fiji, they needed lawyers and accountants.

“Have you registered with Investment Fiji. Have you registered with Film Fiji? Have you applied for the certificate that says that you are an accredited law firm to deal with movie production in Fiji?

“There is lot of work out there. Have you put yourselves out in terms of construction work to look like you can do this type of work, so there are opportunities that do exist in Fiji and off course you get a lot of referrals?”

He said there were not many experts in drafting laws.

He said it was not only about litigation.

“I think what I highlighted earlier on we always look at the end   product. Let’s look at the front. Let’s get the product right, we have lot of opportunities in Fiji.”

Another area he mentioned was mediation.

“The Chief Justice and Chief Registrar have opened up a special mediation office in Suva. We believe Fiji has the potential to become like Singapore.

“Singapore is the size of Taveuni and because the leaders in the government had a vision and wanted to be somewhere in 20 to 30 years time, they actually got systems in place. We can also do that.

“As I have mentioned earlier on in another forum, when we fly to Singapore come April 5 next year, Fiji will be connected to every continent at the borders of every Pacific rim except the borders of South America. Imagine the opportunities from that.

“South America is our only next frontier so there are a lot of opportunities that we can generate as a legal profession.”.

Tomorrow: Concluding part

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