26 May 2009

Fiji legal profession faces downgrade, says businessman

1:11 pm on 26 May 2009

There are fears that the quality of the legal profession in Fiji will be damaged as a result of the move to transfer the issuing of practising certificates away from the Law Society.

Under the Presidential decree new certificates have to be applied for in just over two week's time.

But Fiji-born New Zealand businessman, Ballu Khan, says he believes many lawyers won't apply out of principle.

Mr Khan was accused of masterminding an assassination plot against Commodore Frank Bainimarama, but the charges were dropped.

He says the licensing change could put a large number of high quality lawyers out of the system and degrade the quality of the legal fraternity.

"Lawyers who get licensed by the current regime will always be compromised in the manner which they represent and advocate on behalf of their clients in the courts and we've got some nasty scenarios coming out; if a lawyer is defending a case against the regime and is licensed by the regime, is he really able to criticise the regime in a court of law?"

Mr Khan says the delays in hearings after the sacking of the judiciary and the slowdown in the economy have also left many legal firms struggling.