The Australian Law Council says it has grave concerns about the future independence of the legal profession in Fiji after the interim Government yesterday issued a decree removing the Law Society’s power to issue practising certificates.
Decree 16 places the power to issue practising certificates in the hands of the Chief Registrar of the Court, Ana Rokomokoti, a former military lawyer.
Australian Law Council President John Corcoran says he's concerned this could be the first step in the interim government's attempts to control the country's legal profession, by not allowing lawyers who oppose the regime to practise law.
He said it is alarming these measures have not been the subject of consultation with the Fiji Law Society or Fiji’s legal profession.
“Without an independent legal profession, a vital ingredient in upholding the rule of law in Fiji would be missing,” Mr Corcoran said.
He said the Law Council was also appalled at disturbing reports that the interim Government raided the offices of the Fiji Law Society over the weekend, seizing confidential documents in the process.
“The Law Council, in conjunction with the Fiji Law Society, will continue to keep a watchful eye on events to monitor whether the new arrangements result in an attack on the independence of the legal profession in Fiji,” Mr Corcoran concluded.
Editors Note: See right of blog to read Fiji's new law decree