The Fiji Law Society headquarters at Gordon street, in Suva, was raided on Saturday afternoon and files confiscated.
It now means the Law Society has been rendered a useless organisation in terms of its existing role and authority, as the sole body representing lawyers and issuing practicing certificates annually.
At about 4.30pm on Saturday, six administration staff from the High Court - led by the interim regime’s Chief Registrar Ana Rokomokoti - forcibly removed the keys to the Law Society secretariat. The keys were in the custody of secretariat staff member, Arfana Nisha, and were forcibly taken from her by Rokomokoti and her staff.
According to our legal sources, Nisha was also taken to the Society's headquarters and told to hand over all of the files relating to complaints against lawyers. The Society was in the process of investigating several complaints against lawyers accused of various breaches of the Legal Practitioners Act and the Society’s Constitution.
The Society was informed by Rokomokoti the files were being removed with the authority of the Decree, that had been promulgated earlier that Saturday.
The Decree was not seen by the Society; nor did Rokomokoti give one to the organisation. According to sources, she told the Society it could obtain a copy of the Decree from the Government Printery. The Printery does not open during weekends.
Rokomkoti also advised the Society she is now empowered to issue Practicing Certificates to lawyers and not the Law Society as previously seen under the Legal Practitioners Act.
Coupfourpointfive reported this move by the regime two weeks ago. We reported that work was being spear-headed by Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum to change the Act and basically make the Society powerless.
According to sources, Rokomokoti has informed the Society it has basically been stripped off all its powers in terms of acting as the licensing authority of lawyers and dealing with complaints against lawyers.
Coupfourpointfive has also been told Society President Dorsami Naidu told Rokomokoti to wait until the Decree came out today, before removing the files.
The Fiji Law Society has been going for 53 years, having started in 1956. Its headquarters - the secretariat - is just two minutes walk from the government buildings that house the judiciary, plus that of the Chief Registrar.