City Desk
3 June, 2009  
Fiji - more nasties

Threats and menaces … A crippled Fiji Law Society attempts to fight off strangulation by the Suva junta and its cronies … New practising certificate options put to members

The Legal Practitioners Decree issued last month by Frank & Co turns the Fiji Law Society into a voluntary association and transfers the issuing of practising certificates to government lickspittle and Chief Registrar of the Fiji High Court, Major Ana Rokomokoti.

The decree also says that Major Rokomokoti will decide which disciplinary matters are sent to the new “Independent” Legal Services Commission.

imageAll applications for new PC’s have to be with Rokomokoti by June 15.

The quisling Chief Justice Anthony Gates (pic) has the job of approving the temporary admission of overseas lawyers.

He can apply conditions to any short-term temporary admission and his decisions are appealable to the High Court (good luck).

The FLS sent an email to members today (June 3) saying that the council of the society has formulated three options to handle the government takeover of PCs.

Option 1 – no one apply for PCs.

Option 2 – individuals can apply for PCs.

Option 3 – Group application for PCs by the FLS.

Overseas lawyers and law societies have offered to assist the besieged lawyers’ body in Suva.

However, the FLS is split. Some pro-junta members are peeling off, delighted it has been turned into a voluntary club and they want refunds of their membership fees.

Even more chilling are unofficial reports that western trained lawyers have assisted the illegal regime in drafting these diktats.

Justinian hears that the Fiji finance regulations were amended so that the lavish fees paid to the government’s western lawyers in the Qarase v Bainimarama appeal do not have to be disclosed.

imageOne figure that we have heard is that English silk Richard Gordon was paid about A$250,000 to lead the regime’s defence.

The serious trouble for the Law Society began when Major Rokomokoti (seen here) staged her May 23 raid on the premises.

Documents and professional conduct files were seized.

The Law Society has prepared an analysis of where and how the Legal Practitioners Decree subverts the Legal Practitioners Act – download analysis HERE.

For what it is worth, here is the FLS’ letter of complaint about to the High Court registrar, sent this week:

Monday, 1 June 2009

The Chief Registrar
High Court


Dear Madam,

We refer to your attendance to the Fiji Law Society Secretariat on Saturday, 23rd day of May 2009.

The Fiji Law Society Council has met over this and has completed its investigation as to events that occurred and these are as follows: –

1. At about 4.30pm on Saturday 23 May 2009, you approached the Secretary of the Fiji Law Society while she was on a walk with her mother and her aunt at the Nasese seawall in Suva. This time was outside normal working hours.

2. You introduced yourself as the Acting Chief Registrar and showed her a copy of the Legal Practitioners Decree 2009. Neither the Fiji Law Society Council nor any member of the public was aware of the existence of this Decree at that time. It had not been published anywhere.

3. Further you pointed out to the Secretary section 131 of the Decree and demanded that she handover to you all unresolved complaint files. You asked the Fiji Law Society Secretary to accompany you and the officers you were with to the Law Society Secretariat so that you could collect the unresolved complaint files.

4. Our Secretary wanted to speak to the President of the FLS. Our President requested a copy of the Decree and further advised the secretary not to give the keys to you unless there was a search warrant or any other duly issued authorising document.

5. You threatened to call the police to arrest her. Having left with no option the President advised the secretary to surrender the keys.

6. You and your officers went to the Fiji Law Society Office and tripped the security alarm. Then you came to our Secretary and took her to the office. After which you took all the files without giving any list or inventory of the files you took.

The manner in which you acted is disgraceful and unprofessional at best. You have been a legal practitioner for over 10 years, a magistrate and now hold the high office of the Chief Registrar. The least the Fiji Law Society can expect from you is some professionalism and courtesy.

The proper way to do such a handover would have been to send us a copy of the decree with a letter requesting the release of the files. This would have allowed us to prepare a list of files so that we could ensure no files went missing in transit. By approaching it in such a chaotic manner you may lose files which will subsequently prejudice the lawyers concerned as well as members of the public. A lot of work had been done by the Fiji Law Society and its complaints committee (chaired by Senior Lawyers Mr. Ram Krishna and Mr. Subhas Parshotam) on the files. We could have readily provided assistance, had you approached our staff and office with civility.

The members of the Fiji Law Society and the public will have to deal with you in the future. We were hoping to develop a relationship of mutual respect. Your actions have left a bad taste.

We would appreciate a response from you to this letter having regard to your conduct.

Yours faithfully

Dorsami Naidu

See recent report – Fiji Law Society closed down